It turns out that our moon isn’t alone out there, orbiting our planet on its own. Earth has a companion in space which has been orbiting our world for over a century, and NASA has only recently spotted it.
According to new reports from NASA, there is a quasi-moon orbiting around Earth for almost a century, and we have missed it all along.
The new moon isn’t as big as THE MOON is, but, it still keeps our original moon company while traveling across space.
The smaller quasi-moon orbits Earth with an extremely irregular path. Moon 2.0 is actually asteroid 2016 H03, which is locked into a dance with our planet, in fact, it has been dancing with our planet for almost a century and we have failed to notice it until recently. The quasi- moon’s orbit is extremely elliptical causing it to travel between 38 and 100 times the distance of our planet’s ‘original’ moon.
The ‘new’ moon is tilted at around 8° and travels around the sun for 365.93 days, which is a bit longer than our planets 365.24 day-long year.
The orbit of the new moon varies a lot. In fact, due to its tilted and elliptical orbit, 2016 H03 is sometimes closer to the sun and moves faster than our planet and in other times its located farther out and moves slowly. However, researcher shave found it never gets closer to about 14 million kilometers from Earth, nor does it stray off course over 40 million kilometers.
Earth new mini-moon is around 40 meters across and nearly 100 meters wide and will most likely remain as one of Earth’s smaller moon for coming centuries.
The new moon was discovered thanks to the Pan-STARRS 1 asteroid survey telescope in Haleakala, Hawaii.
“Since 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“One other asteroid — 2003 YN107 — followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over ten years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity. This new asteroid is much more locked onto us. Our calculations indicate 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for almost a century, and it will continue to follow this pattern as Earth’s companion for centuries to come.”