Full Moon by Gregory H. Revera / CC BY-SA 3.0

Earth’s new minimoon might be a rocket humans launched into space in the 1960s

Sep 24, 2020

By Rafi Letzter

Earth is getting a small new moon, but it might have been made by people.

Astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona first detected the object back in February as a flash of light darting across space.

Right this moment, it’s not in orbit around the Earth, but it’s nearby. And it’s going to enter Earth’s orbit for a while in 2020 before heading out to circle the sun again.

The initial assumption was that this mysterious blip was an asteroid. The object, termed 2020 SO2 by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, appears to have been temporarily captured by Earth’s gravity. Earth has captured “minimoons” like this before, and scientists have spotted them a couple times in recent years. It’s a natural part of our planet’s movement through space.

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