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Old 09-22-2020, 12:46 PM
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Question Earth Is About to Capture a Minimoon, But There's Something Odd About This One

Earth Is About to Capture a Minimoon, But There's Something Odd About This One
By: Michelle Starr - Science Alert News - 09-22-20

We all know and love our Moon. It's been Earth's constant companion for billions of years, a mainstay of the skies. But it's not our only companion.

Every now and again, a smaller object gets temporarily captured in our planet's orbit, hanging around for a short period of time - a few months or years - before being flung out back into space.

We call these objects minimoons, and while we have made a few tentative detections of such temporarily captured asteroids, only two have ever been confirmed - 2006 RH120, which visited in 2006 and 2007, and 2020 CD3, in Earth orbit from 2018 to 2020.

Now astronomers have spotted a new object, named 2020 SO, on an incoming trajectory that is likely to see it temporarily captured by Earth's gravity. Projections have an object arriving next month, in October 2020, and hanging around until May 2021, when it will depart for environs elsewhere.

As you can see in the simulation below, the object's trajectory suggests it will enter and leave through two of Earth's Lagrange points, gravitationally stable points created by Earth's gravitational interaction with the Sun.

Note: Earlier report & video from Tony Dunn
Tony Dunn
Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 - May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture through L2, and escape through L1. Highly-chaotic path, so be prepared for lots of revisions as new observations come in.

Here's link of its potential course:
Plus many comments by many others on this subject (if interested)

Personal note: It looks like a little firefly (let's hope it don't hit earth or the moon?


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