Earth has a brand new companion: a mini-moon referred to as 2020 CD3. On Feb. 15, scientists found a small rocky chunk that was captured by our planet’s gravity. However, don’t get too excited, as a result of it’s probably solely a brief fixture.
Our planet has solely one pure satellite, our moon, however for the last couple of years, there’s been one other lurking out in space. Astronomers noticed what is probably going a carbonaceous asteroid with the assistance of the Catalina Sky Survey. The mini-moon is between 6.2 and 11.5-ft (1.9 to 3.5-m) in diameter, and roughly the scale of a car.
Sometimes, briefly captured objects, like 2020 CD3, solely grasp round for a quick time (from a number of months to a year or two) earlier than they’re flung again out into space, or in some instances, expand in our planet’s environment as they’re pulled in by Earth’s gravitational tug. However, based on astronomer’s, it’s been orbiting the Earth for as much as three years now.
The actual celestial property encircling the Earth is fairly crowded, which might be why we’ve simply now observed it. Asteroids — that are piles of planetary rubble, remnants leftover from the beginning of the solar system — are normally very small and darkish, making them tough to identify.
So, discovering 2020 CD3 is sort of a giant deal. To this point, there have been solely a handful of proposed potential mini-moons with solely one confirmed — an asteroid named 2006 RH120. The three-foot-extensive area rock orbited the Earth for simply over a year, from 2006-2007.
The existence of 2020 CD3 is a thrilling discovery for numerous causes, together with offering the prospect to check asteroids up shut. Most asteroids orbit between Mars and Jupiter, in principle, the asteroid belt, and it takes sending a spacecraft out into the solar system to check certainly one of these celestial objects intimately.
2020 CD3 may present astronomers with the prospect to check asteroids intimately, and higher perceive how they’re captured by planets. Sadly, computer simulations point out that the mini-moon may very well be again on a journey across the solar as early as April. That’s as a result of it’s caught in a recreation of tug-of-conflict between the Earth and the moon.