Object supposed to enter Earth’s gravity, is it an asteroid or...

An asteroid that should get close enough to Earth temporarily to be caught by its gravitational pull has been found to be space debris, according to Paul Chodas, NASA’s leading authority on asteroid research. Speaking to the Associated Press (AP) Chodas said the asteroid (2020 SO), which was supposedly destined to become a mini moon, was instead the Centaur rocket booster of the failed Surveyor 2 Moon landing mission. Surveyor 2 was one of seven unmanned robotic spacecraft that NASA sent to the lunar surface from 1966 to 1968 as part of the Surveyor lunar exploration program. The object was first discovered by a telescope in Hawaii in September and measured to be about 26 feet long – fitting the centaur’s estimated dimensions. The lander itself crashed into the moon after one of its thrusters failed to fire, causing it to spin through space for 54 hours before crashing into the moon at about 6,000 miles per hour. However, the centaur booster hovered past the moon on its original path after it hurled Surveyor 2 towards the lunar surface and was separated from the vehicle. Chodas mentioned to AP what he found interesting about the discovery – and what essentially drew his attention to the fact that the object was the lost booster – is that it mimicked a solar orbit similar to that of Earth – something asteroids just don’t do . He added that the object is on the same plane as Earth, where normally asteroids tend to make strange angles in their trajectory, and that the speed of the object was slow for an asteroid. cnxps.cmd.push (function () {cnxps ({playerId: ’36af7c51-0caf-4741-9824-2c941fc6c17b‘}). render (‚4c4d856e0e6f4e3d808bbc1715e132f6‘);});“I’m pretty excited about it,” Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, told AP. “It was a hobby of mine to find one of them and to make such a connection, and I’ve been doing that for decades.” The object, however it may be, is supposed to be captured by the earth’s gravity at two points, to enter, then escape before re-entering, before it finally escapes again into the abyss. It is expected to cover distances of approximately 31,000 miles in December and 136,000 miles in February. Neither passageway is inside the stadium to reach the atmosphere, but since it is sucked into Earth’s gravity, scientists have a better opportunity to study the object more closely to confirm what it actually is and information for preserve future asteroid exploration.

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