Mini moon

A miniature space rock pulled into the Earth’s orbit, in addition to the Earth’s satellite, the original ‘Moon’ is called Minimoon.

Key Points

  • The minimoon, known formally as 2020 CD3, is a tiny earth-asteroid orbiting Sun. It was discovered by scientists in February 2020.
  • On the basis of the nominal trajectory of 2020 CD3, it was said that the minimoon was captured by Earth in 2016-17 and has escaped the Earth’s gravitational sphere in May 2020.
  • It is projected that 2020 CD3 will pass close to Earth in 2044.
  • In September 2020, NASA Centre for Near-Earth Objects Studies predicted a new minimoon will pass Earth's orbit. The mini-moon was named as ‘2020 SO’.
  • 2020 SO was discovered by the Pan-STARRS1 survey at the Haleakala Observatory.

Mysterious Mini Moon is a 1960s rocket booster

Recently, Researchers from NASA have discovered that the mysterious minimoon temporarily orbiting Earth is not a space rock, but a rocket booster that was launched in the 1960s.

It is a rocket from the Surveyor 2 moon mission said to be blasted more than 50 years ago from the Earth.

This has been confirmed after analyzing its composition at NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF).

NASA said that 2020 SO will not orbit Earth for a long time and will eventually escape from the gravitational sphere of Earth. After this, it will hang out in the "hill sphere" which is a region extending around 930,000 miles.

NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF)

IRTF is a 3.2-meter telescope that has been optimized for infrared observations. It is one of the telescopes of the Maunakea Observatories located on the Island of Hawaii. The observatory is managed and operated by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy for NASA.

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