Earth might need a tiny new moon. On 19 February, astronomers on the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona noticed a dim object transferring rapidly throughout the sky. Over the next few days, researchers at 6 other observatories worldwide watched the item, designated 2020 CD3, and determined its orbit, confirming that it has been gravitationally certain to Earth for about 3 years.
An advertisement posted by the Minor Planet Center, which displays small bodies in space, states that “no hyperlink to an identified synthetic object has been discovered,” implying that it’s most certainly an asteroid caught by Earth’s gravity because it handed by.
That is simply the second asteroid recognized to have been captured by our planet as a mini-moon – the primary, 2006 RH120, hung round between September 2006 and June 2007 earlier than escaping.
Our new moon might be between 1.9 and 3.5 meters throughout, or roughly the scale of an automotive, making it no match for Earth’s major moon. It circles our planet about as soon as every 47 days on a large, oval-formed orbit that principally swoops far outdoors the bigger moon’s path.
The orbit isn’t secure, so finally, 2020, CD3 can be flung away from Earth. “It’s heading away from the Earth-moon system as we converse,” says Grigori Fedorets at Queen’s College Belfast within the UK, and it appears doubtless it is going to escape in April.
Nevertheless, there are a number of completely different simulations of its trajectory they usually don’t all agree – we’ll want extra observations to precisely predict the destiny of our mini-moon and even to verify that it’s positively a short-lived moon and never a few artificial space particles. “Our worldwide workforce is repeatedly working to constrain a greater answer,” says Fedorets.