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Earth is set to capture a MINI-MOON in October


Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon.

 

Dubbed 2020 SO, the entity has been on an Earth-like orbit for more than a year and is set to become trapped in our planet's gravity starting in October and stay until May 2021.

 

However, some experts have noticed it is moving much slower than a typical asteroid and suggest it could be man-made space junk.

 

A NASA scientist has speculated that it may be a discarded part of the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket that launched in 1966.

 

Tony Dunn, an astronomer, told DailyMail.com: 'Further observations will reveal its density. If it is hollow like a rocket booster, solar radiation pressure will significantly alter its course.'

 


Astronomers have spotted an object with an incoming trajectory towards Earth that could become a temporary minimoon

 

DailyMail.com has contacted NASA for more information and has yet to receive a response.  

 

Earth has only had two minimoons on record – one in February 2020 and the other in 2006.

 

Unlike the other two, 2020 SO has yet to be confirmed as an asteroid, as some scientists believe it could be space junk hurling towards Earth.  

 

However, 2020 SO has been classified as an Apollo asteroid in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Small-Body Database, which is a class of asteroids whose paths cross Earth's orbit.

 

NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies Database shows the object is between 12 and 46 feet long, which also matches properties of the 1966 Centaur that measures 41.6 feet long.

 

Experts have also noted that 2020 SO's velocity is much lower than that of an Apollo asteroid.

 

Space archaeologist Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Australia told ScienceAlert: 'The velocity seems to be a big one.'

 

'What I'm seeing is that it's just moving too slowly, which reflects its initial velocity. That's essentially a big giveaway.'

 

Paul Chodas with JPL identified this with the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket body, launched on September 20, 1966.

 

'The very low Earth encounter velocity (0.6 km/sec is even low for lunar ejecta, so it is unlikely it is a natural body, even lunar ejecta, more likely space junk,' he wrote.

 


In February (pictured), NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth's gravity. NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years

 

An animation of the object in question shows that it is in fact heading towards Earth and will make to close swoops when it arrives.

 

In December,  2020 OS is expected to pass by Earth at a distance of around 31,000 miles and two months later, it will fly by at 136,701 miles.

 

In February, NASA announced it had confirmed a new visitor in Earth's gravity.

 

NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey discovered a temporarily captured asteroid, called 2020 CD3, which has been orbiting our planet for three years.

 

The tiny cosmic object was estimated to be about six to 12 feet in diameter and had a surface brightness similar to C-type asteroids, which are carbon rich and very common.

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