Astronomers have identified a newcomer in Earth’s orbit, a mini-moon dubbed ‘2020 CD3’.
The discovery was made by Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Pruyne, researcher specialists for the Catalina Sky Survey in Tuscon, Arizona on February 15th 2020.
The mini-moon is in fact a small asteroid, about 6 feet to 11 feet in length. Based on it’s orbit, astronomers believe the asteroid entered Earth’s orbit ~3 years ago… but was only discovered a couple weeks ago. It’s orbit around Earth is also believed to only be temporary.
Despite the +1 million known space rocks, this is only the second asteroid to be captured in Earth’s orbit. The first observed Earth-orbiting asteroid was 2006 RH120, also discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey. The space rock was pulled in by Earth’s gravity in June 2006 and orbited our planet until September 2007, before eventually leaving and returning to the wider solar system.
More information is likely to be revealed with continued observation. Stay tuned for updates.