A visiting asteroid known as 2020 CD3 was seen orbiting Earth and is being referred to as 'mini-moon'. 2020 CD3 is only the second asteroid ever known to orbit Earth, out of 1 million other asteroids. Researcher specialists for the Catalina Sky Survey - Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Pruyne discovered the object.
On locating the asteroid orbiting Earth, it was named 2020 CD3 but was deemed a temporary one which, probably, would not last long. Astronomers believe that the newly discovered mini-moon will be gone by Spring and what's even more surprising is the fact that it has been orbiting Earth for at least three years without being noticed.
Astronomer Kacper Wierzchos tweeted a video showing the mini-moon. In another tweet he mentioned, "The object has a diameter between 1.9 - 3.5 m assuming a C-type asteroid albedo. But it's a big deal as out of ~ 1 million known asteroids, this is just the second asteroid known to orbit Earth (after 2006 RH120, which was also discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey)."
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
(2/3) The object has just been announced by the MPC and its orbit shows that it entered Earth's orbit some three years ago. Here is a diagram of the orbit created with the orbit simulator written by Tony Dunn: pic.twitter.com/2wsJGtexiO— Kacper Wierzchos (@WierzchosKacper) February 26, 2020
The project was reportedly carried out at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tuscon, Arizona. As specialists at Catalina aid in NASA's discovery in tracking hazardous objects near Earth, the survey was funded by NASA and supported by the Near-Earth Object Observation Program.
The object was brought forth by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Minor Planet Center on Tuesday who also revealed that the asteroid was between 6.2 feet and 11.4 feet in diameter. An announcement on their site read, "Orbit integrations indicate that this object is temporarily bound to the Earth. No evidence of perturbations due to solar radiation pressure is seen, and no link to a known artificial object has been found."
The Catalina Sky Survey had discovered asteroid 2006 RH120, the first known asteroid to orbit Earth, in September 2006. Scientists had believed it to be an artificial, temporarily captured object due to the similarity between its orbit and rocket boosters of the Apollo-era.
The object is also being called as the Earth's 'girlfriend' by some netizens and the Earth's 'baby' by others. The new discovery has created a whirlwind of exhilaration and happiness all over the world.
great news everyone! the moon has a small girlfriend pic.twitter.com/4knA06crqC— kimmy (@ka_waltz) February 26, 2020