The Earth has two moons, according to a groundbreaking NASA discovery which has come across a mysterious new, second “mini-moon”. The mysterious “mini-moon” has been orbiting the Earth for approximately three years but has only been discovered now. It is not known what the object is made of but NASA officials had ruled out claims it was “artificial” or “man-made”.
Astronomers first spotted the object, a car-size asteroid called 2020 CD3, on 15th February at Mount Lemmon Observatory, Arizona.
Two astronomers from the Catalina Sky Survey, Kacper Wierzchos and Theodore Pruyne, registered a bizarre dot moving against a static background of stars.
Dr Wierzchos tweeted: “BIG NEWS. Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3, likely to be a C-type asteroid.
“The asteroid is likely between 6.2 feet and 11.4 feet in diameter.”
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Dr Wierzchos later said: “It didn’t seem to be any different than the other near-Earth asteroids that we discover except that it was found to be orbiting Earth instead of the sun.”
The Catalina Sky Survey was founded by NASA to create a catalogue of potentially hazardous asteroids.
However, Paul Chodas, who directs NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, has claimed that 2020 CD3 will leave Earth’s orbit in two weeks.
Scientists described the discovery as “extremely rare”.
Dr Wierzchos tweeted: “It’s a big deal as out of (around) 1 million known asteroids, this is just the second asteroid known to orbit Earth.”
Astronomers at the Minor Planet Center, an international body that tracks asteroid discoveries, denied claims that the object could be “artificial” or remains from a rocket launch or other human activity.
They said: “No link to a known artificial object has been found. Further observations and dynamical studies are strongly encouraged.”
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Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said the car-sized object was not the Telsa Roadster he launched into space in 2018, which is now orbiting the Sun.
He tweeted: “It’s not mine.”
It is thought that a second moon the size of the current moon would spark “apocalyptic” scenarios, including mass tsunamis.
Peak tides would be six times higher, leading to a wipe-out of major cities including New York, Singapore and London.
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