Fast News : Earth’s Artificial “Mini-Moon” 2020 SO to say a final Adieu!

The object known as 2020 SO was first discovered on September 17 2020 and was suspected to be an artificial (man-made) object due to its low relative velocity. This suspicion was later confirmed by NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility in December of 2020 when the observatory found the object’s spectrum to match that of stainless steel. Calculations have shown that this object is a rocket booster launched in 1966(54 years ago! Feeling old yet?) as part of the Surveyor 2 mission to explore our primary (and the best!) Moon!

It was captured by our planet when it entered Earth’s Gravity Sphere on 8th November 2020 through Lagrange point L2 (a point of equilibrium b/w two massive bodies; in this case the Sun and the Earth).

It made a close approach on December 1, 2020 coming at a 50,000 km perigee(closest point in orbit). For reference, our Telecom satellites are at 36,000 km circular orbit. 

 

It is set to make a final approach on 2nd February of 2021 and leave Earth’s Gravity Sphere, through L1 Lagrange point, forever. 

It probably was missing Earth and wanted to see its launch pad for the last time or say goodluck to its counterparts on the Moon (aww no I’m not crying, you are). 

 

Being the fairly massive planet Earth is, it keeps capturing space objects. As a matter of fact it has another small rock orbiting it, named 2020 CD3 and a number of more insignificant objects in the Lagrange points.

 

This incident does show us the level of space debris we’re polluting our solar system with, let alone the debris in orbit around the Earth which has to be constantly monitored to avoid collision with working satellites, unless we clear it. Space exploration comes with a cost, and we have to pay it, sooner or later.

A video by Tony Dunn showing the beautifully weird path of 2020 SO:

Fast News : Earth’s Artificial “Mini-Moon” 2020 SO to say a final Adieu!2 min read

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