A New Mini-Moon is Orbiting Earth
It will eventually float away, though.
Researchers discovered a “mini-moon” that’s been pulled into Earth’s orbit.
The asteroid, known as 2020 CD3, is currently orbiting Earth, and was likely pulled in two to three years ago. However, researchers expect it to drop out sometime in April and resume heliocentric orbit, which is an orbit around the sun.
Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Pruyne who are research specialists for NASA-funded project Catalina Sky Survey discovered the asteroid. The survey, which is supported by the Near-Earth Object Observations Program, helps NASA find and track near-Earth objects that could be hazardous to Earth.
BIG NEWS (thread 1/3). Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3. On the night of Feb. 15, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne and I found a 20th magnitude object. Here are the discovery images. pic.twitter.com/zLkXyGAkZl— Kacper Wierzchos (@WierzchosKacper) February 26, 2020
Researchers will continue observing the asteroid, which is likely between 6 ft and 11 ft in diameter, to learn more about where it came from.
"Over the next few weeks, more observations are likely to come in," Pruyne told CNN. "This will better help us understand the origin of the object, as well as a more accurate timeline of when the object came into orbit."
2020 CD3 is the second-known asteroid to orbit Earth. The first was 2006 RH120, which orbited from 2006 to 2007 before being pushed out. An Astronomical Journal paper also suggested the existence of another mini-moon that entered Earth’s atmosphere then burned up.