Science

NASA solves mini-moon mystery by identifying `asteroid` approaching Earth

NASA solves mini-moon mystery by identifying `asteroid` approaching Earth”

Observations should help nail its identity.

NASA asteroid expert Paul Chodas told PA: "I'm pretty jazzed about this". "It's been a passion of mine to search out certainly one of these and draw such a hyperlink, and I've been doing it for many years now". Before throwing. One of its thrillers failed to explode along the way after the lander hit the moon. Meanwhile, the rocket passed the moon and revolved around the sun, which was never seen again.

A telescope in Hawaii discovered the mysterious object last month.

2020 SO was recently spotted by telescopes based in Hawaii and added to the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center's list of asteroids and comets in the solar system, of which there are nearly one million.

The object is estimated to be about 8 meters in terms of its brightness. That's in the ballpark of the old Centaur, which would be less than 32 feet long including its engine nozzle and 10 feet in diameter.

The asteroid expert said the object raised his suspicion when he noticed it making a near-circular orbit around the Sun, similar to our own planet's. Asteroids usually move at odd angles.

The final giveaway was its speed - it is traveling towards the earth at 1,500 miles per hour (2400 km/h).

As the object approaches, astronomers can better list its orbit and determine how far it is pushed by the effects of sunlight radiation and heat.

That's how astronomers usually differentiate between asteroids and house junk like deserted rocket elements, since each seem merely as transferring dots within the sky. There likely are dozens of fake asteroids out there, but their motions are too imprecise or jumbled to confirm their artificial identity, said Chodas.

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Typically it's the opposite method round.

Much more thrilling, Chodas in 2002 discovered what he believes was the leftover Saturn V third stage from 1969′s Apollo 12, the second moon touchdown by NASA astronauts.

Hundreds of asteroids approach Earth every year and while some of them enter the atmosphere, majority either pass by the planet or get trapped by its gravity.

The path of modern objects is direct, much more stable and supports his theory.

"I might be improper on this. I don't want to look overly confident", Chodas said. "Nevertheless it's the primary time, for my part, that each one the items match along with an precise identified launch".

"Asteroid hunter Carrie Nugent of Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, said Chodas" conclusion is "a good one" based on solid evidence. She is the author of the 2017 book "Asteroid Hunters". "We are excited to see how this evolves!"

Last year, British amateur astronomer Nick Howes announced that an asteroid in solar orbit is likely to be an abandoned lunar module at NASA's Apollo 10 rehearsal for the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Whereas this object is probably going synthetic, Chodas and others are skeptical of the connection.

Skepticism is good, Hoves wrote in an email. In the late 2030s, "I hope more observations will be made when we are at the next stage of our forest".

He predicts it will spend four months circling in the Earth's orbit from mid-November. Mr. Chodas pointed to the way the favorite debris is orbiting the sun and said that it could not be a space rock because of the unique path around the star.



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