Asteroid #2020SO is suspected to be the Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket booster launched on September 20, 1966. Earth-like orbits and low relative speeds suggest that they may be man-made objects.
-Kevin Hyde (@kpheider) September 21, 2020
Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, believes that the object may be the rocket booster of Surveyor 2, which is an automatic The spacecraft was launched on September 20, 1966.
The purpose of the Surveyor 2 mission is to send a second lunar lander into the unmonitored American Surveyor program to explore the moon. The Surveyor 2 spacecraft exploded on top of the Atlas LV-3C Centaur-D rocket at Cape Kennedy, Florida. After the propeller failed to catch fire, the mid-range calibration failed and the space controller lost contact with the spacecraft three days later. The failure caused the spacecraft to fall and eventually fell near the Moon’s Copernicus Crater.
Speeding up to our time, this strange object designed 2020 SO. The estimated size of the object is between 20 and 45 feet (6 to 14 meters), which is an unreasonable match with the size of the Atlas LV-3C Centaur-D (approximately 41 feet or 12 meters).
How could we lose a full 41-foot rocket? Alice Gorman, a space archaeologist at Flinders University in Australia, told ScienceAlert that before our modern era of reusable rockets, the rocket that sent a spacecraft into space was easy to lose . she says:
There are many factors in the space environment, such as gravitational factors and other factors that affect movement, which may sometimes be unpredictable.
You must continue to track these things, otherwise you may really easily ignore them. And, if they do something unpredictable, and you look the wrong way, then you won't know where it is going. Surprisingly, many things are missing.
Is 2020 an ordinary asteroid? Or is it an old dust rocket returning home? We just don't know yet.
Scientists hope that further observations and spectroscopic observations of the light reflected from the 2020 SO surface will allow us to know whether it is actually a weird, slow space rock or man-made space debris.
From October 2020 to May 2021, the asteroid 2020 SO may be captured by the Earth. The current nominal trajectory shows that the captured gas is captured through L2 and escapes through L1. A highly confusing path, so be prepared for extensive revisions for new observations. @renerpho @nrco0e https://t.co/h4JaG2rHEd pic.twitter.com/RfUaeLtEWq
-Tony Dunn (@tony873004) September 20, 2020
By the way, this is not the first time the Earth has captured a mini moon.
You may have realized that there are asteroids everywhere in space. Sometimes, one of these space rocks is temporarily captured by our Earth's gravity and then thrown back into the entire solar system. The two confirmed mini-months are 2006 RH120 (in Earth orbit between 2006 and 2007) and 2020 CD3 (in our orbit between 2018 and 2020).
This is not the first time we mistake space junk for asteroids.
Another small object originally thought to be an asteroid is WT1190F, which was discovered in October 2015 while approaching the Earth. Its trajectory indicates that it is about to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere near Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, and ordinary asteroids have such events several times a year.
As WT1190F decomposed in our atmosphere on November 13, 2015, scientists analyzed its light through spectroscopy.
The analysis indicated that the object may be part of a spacecraft, or part of a used rocket, and a piece of wandering space junk, returning home.
Bottom line: the newly discovered "asteroid" may become the new moon of the earth. The object was designated as 2020 SO and entered into JPL's small database. But this may not be an ordinary asteroid. It may be the lost rocket for the "Surveyor 2" mission, which was originally launched from Earth more than 50 years ago.
Through popular mechanics