Astronomers have identified a new small moon that is about to join Earth’s orbit – but it is believed to be a man-made space junk.
Usually, small moons are asteroids that temporarily join Earth’s orbit before being pushed back into space.
However, experts said that the characteristics of this object indicate that it is not an asteroid and instead corresponds to something man-made.
The object, called 2020 SO, has an Earth-like orbit of just over a year and a low velocity that is not typical of an asteroid.
Objects from the moon have slower velocities than asteroids, but experts said they are slower than moon rocks as well.
a NASA The official suggested that it may have been a neglected part of a missile that launched a test payload, Surveyor 2, to study the moon in September 1966.
The path they are tracing means that the 2020 SO will likely be captured by Earth’s gravity in October, and will continue orbiting the planet until around May 2021.
Although considered a space junk, 2020 SO has been classified as an Apollo asteroid – and it is known to have criss-crossed Earth’s orbit.
Many small moons have been discovered in the past, but only two of them have been confirmed.
The first is the 2006 RH120, which orbited the Earth between 2006 and 2007, and the other one 2020 CD3Which arrived in 2018 before leaving earlier this year.
Reusable rockets were only recently invented, with multi-stage rockets designed to collapse for several decades.
The missile’s support stage returns to Earth for reuse, but the rest of the rocket is discarded in space after completing its function, resulting in a space junk.
Experts said that due to various factors in space, things can easily get lost.
2020 SO is expected to have two close encounters with Earth.
On December 1, it is expected to pass 50,000 km, and on February 2, 2021, it will fly approximately 220,000 km.
None of the states would be sufficient to enter Earth’s atmosphere, but it could allow for a closer study to determine what an object is.