Earth’s second moon will make a detailed method to the planet subsequent week earlier than drifting off into area, by no means to be seen once more.”What second moon,” you ask? Astronomers name it 2020 SO — a small object that dropped into Earth’s orbit about midway between our planet and the moon in September 2020. Temporary satellites like these are referred to as minimoons, although calling it a moon is a bit misleading on this case; in December 2020, NASA researchers discovered that the article is not an area rock in any respect, however moderately the stays of a 1960s rocket booster concerned within the American Surveyor moon missions.This non-moon minimoon made its closest method to Earth on Dec. 1 (the day earlier than NASA recognized it because the long-lost booster), nevertheless it’s coming again for yet one more victory lap, in accordance to EarthSky.org. Minimoon 2020 SO will make a remaining shut method to Earth on Tuesday (Feb. 2) at roughly 140,000 miles (220,000 kilometers) from Earth, or 58% of the best way between Earth and the moon.
Space.com Collection: $26.99 at Magazines Direct
Get prepared to discover the wonders of our unbelievable universe! The “Space.com Collection” is full of wonderful astronomy, unbelievable discoveries and the newest missions from area businesses world wide. From distant galaxies to the planets, moons and asteroids of our personal photo voltaic system, you’ll uncover a wealth of details about the cosmos, and study about the brand new applied sciences, telescopes and rockets in growth that may reveal much more of its secrets and techniques. View Deal
Related: The 15 weirdest galaxies in our universeThe booster will drift away after that, leaving Earth’s orbit fully by March 2021, in accordance to EarthSky. After that, the previous minimoon will probably be simply one other object orbiting the solar. The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome will host a web-based farewell to the article on the evening of Feb. 1.NASA discovered that the article has made a number of shut approaches to Earth over the a long time, even coming comparatively close to in 1966 — the 12 months that the company launched its Surveyor 2 lunar probe on the again of a Centaur rocket booster. That gave scientists their first large clue that 2020 SO was man-made; they confirmed it after evaluating the article’s chemical make-up with that of one other rocket booster, which has been in orbit since 1971.Godspeed, minimoon 2020 SO. We constructed you. We deserted you. And now, you abandon us.Originally printed on Live Science.