The discovery of the mini-moon was first mentioned by a researcher on Twitter on February 26. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
New Delhi :
From time immemorial, poets have written romantic couplets for the lonely ‘Moon’. How beautiful Earth cosmic partner is and so very loner! But looks like the astronomers have found a friend for our Moon, for now! Latest media reports suggest that researchers have identified an asteroid orbiting the Earth. The scientists have christened the mini-moon as ‘2020 CD3’. However, this cosmic guest won’t stay for long. The researchers say that 2020 CD3 will leave the Earth’s orbit in April. Moon is the only surface in space apart from Earth, where humans have been set foot! The discovery of the mini-moon was first mentioned by a researcher on Twitter on February 26. Kacper Wierzchos, an astronomer with University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, took to the micro-blogging site to make the announcement.
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
“BIG NEWS. 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,” Wierzchos said on Twitter. Posting a diagram, he also said that, “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.”
Giving out the specifications, the researcher said that, “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).”
According to NASA, “Earth's only natural satellite is simply called "the Moon" because people didn't know other moons existed until Galileo Galilei discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610.”
Meanwhile, in another development related to Moon, the European Space Agency (ESA) is developing a prototype system to help humans breathe on the Moon by turning moondust into oxygen. The facility being developed in the Netherlands will create oxygen using simulated lunar material, not only to help astronauts breathe, but also for rocket fuel, the ESA said in a statement. "Being able to acquire oxygen from resources found on the Moon would obviously be hugely useful for future lunar settlers, both for breathing and in the local production of rocket fuel," said Beth Lomax from the University of Glasgow in the UK.
"And now we have the facility in operation we can look into fine-tuning it, for instance by reducing the operating temperature, eventually designing a version of this system that could one day fly to the Moon to be operated there," ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse added.
(With agency inputs)