Earth Gets Temporary Mini Moon: How Far Is It From Our Planet?

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Scientists and astronomers have been working on categorizing and finding all Near-Earth Objects to help filter which of these might pose a collision threat to Earth. Interestingly, a team of astronomers with the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey have found a new, tiny, temporary moon for Earth.

Temporary Moon
 

Temporary Moon

That's right, our Earth indeed has a new temporary Moon that is minuscule in size. Astronomers Teddy Pruyne and Kacper Wierzchos with the Catalina Sky Survey spotted a tiny, dim-lit object moving through the sky on February 15. A few other scientists and astronomers at six other observatories worldwide confirmed the discovery.

A report from IAU's Minor Planet Center said that "Orbit integrations...indicate that this object is temporarily bound to the Earth." The report also noted that "no link to a known artificial object has been found." The conclusion drawn was the tiny object discovered is gravitationally bound to Earth and isn't a satellite.

Currently, scientists and astronomers aren't straight up saying it is a Moon, but the widely accepted conclusion is that it is a tiny Moon. Technically, the small object has been classified as a Temporarily Captured Object (TCO) and dubbed as 2020 CD3. The TCO tag also indicates that the object is sized like a washing machine and could be a captured asteroid.

2020 CD3
 

Currently, the 2020 CD3 is captured with the Earth's gravitational pull. However, this might now stay for very long. A tweet by Wierzchos further explains that "the object has just been announced by the MPC and its orbit shows that it entered Earth's orbit some three years ago." The tweet displays a diagram of the orbit created by armature astronaut Tony Dunn.

It should be noted that this isn't the first asteroid to be captured by the Earth's gravitational pull. Back in 2006, astronomers with the Catalina Sky Survey discovered another minuscule captured asteroid called the 2006 RH120 with a small diameter between 2 to 3 meters.

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