Every once in a while, orbital trajectories and fate’s gravity conspire to let Earth briefly adopt a miniature Moon to join us for a few measures of our planet’s constant dance around the Sun.
Scientists rarely get to watch the process in action, but now they think they’ve spotted something that will slip into Earth’s orbit later this year and spend about six months as a mini-Moon. But researchers who have been eyeing the object, dubbed 2020 SO, think there’s another special trait to the future mini-Moon: It may not be a space rock but a rocket booster that launched in the 1960s.
“I suspect this newly discovered object 2020 SO to be an old rocket booster because it is following an orbit about the sun that is extremely similar to Earth’s, nearly circular, in the same plane, and only slightly farther away the sun at its farthest point”, Paul Chodas, head of NASA‘s Center for Near Earth Object Studies in California, told CNN.
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