Asteroid hurtling towards earth might be a piece of rocket trash

Katie Ramirez
October 13, 2020

NASA experts have detected one such incoming asteroid that will be trapped by Earth's gravity and will become a "mini Moon" for some time. It was not designated an asteroid and left Earth orbit in 2003.

The object is estimated to be approximately 8 meters (26 feet) based on brightness.

"Some extra information could be helpful so we are able to know for certain", she stated in an e-mail.

Paul Chodas, manager of the NASA NEO Program Office at Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), suggested that the object could be a Surveyor 2 upper rocket stage that was launched on September 20, 1966, atop an Atlas LV-3C Centaur-D rocket.

According to the astronomers, Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, the mini-moon is between 2 to 3 meters wide.

Amid a flurry of asteroidal activity as we enter the final few months of 2020, NASA's asteroid hunters have flagged five more space rocks en route ranging in size from 5.5m all the way up to a whopping 45m.

Surveyor 2 ended up crashing on the surface of the moon after one of its thrusters failed to fire up approach the rock. "It " s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I " ve been doing it for decades now".

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. Essentially this will be a quite helpful diagnostic - heavy and dense asteroids behave differently than empty metal cans towards these effects.

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

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"I could be wrong about this". I don't want to believe too much, "Chodas said".

"But it " s the first time, in my view, that all the pieces fit together with an actual known launch".

And he's glad to hear that this is a mission he raised in 1966, in Canada, as a teenager.

Asteroid hunter Carrie Nugent of Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, said Chodas' conclusion is "a good one" based on solid evidence. She's the writer of the 2017 e book "Asteroid Hunters". I'm glad to see how it develops!

Last year, a British amateur astronomer, Nick Howes, announced that an asteroid in solar orbit was likely the abandoned lunar module from NASA's Apollo 10, a rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon landing. Whereas this object is probably going synthetic, Chodas and others are skeptical of the connection. "It hopefully will lead to more observations when it's next in our neck of the woods" in the late 2030s.

"Chodas" latest target of interest was passed by Earth in their respective laps around the sun in 1984 and 2002. But seeing at a distance of 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) was so mediocre.

He predicts the article will spend about 4 months circling Earth as soon as it's captured in mid-November, earlier than capturing again out into its personal orbit across the solar subsequent March. 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.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Department of Science Education at Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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