Earth has a new 'mini-moon' about the size of a car

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 27, 2020, 06.05 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

It was 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),' the astronomer also said.

Astronomers in the United States have spotted a new "mini-moon" circling the planet Earth which is about the size of a car.

According to the astronomers, Kacper Wierzchos and Teddy Pruyne of NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, the mini-moon is between 2 to 3 meters wide.

"BIG NEWS, Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3," Wierzchos announced on Twitter.

×

The astronomer also said that Asteroid 2020 CD3 which has has been captured by Earth's gravity is lingering around for the past three years.

"The object has just been announced by the MPC and its orbit shows that it entered Earth's orbit some three years ago."

×

It was 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)," the astronomer also said.

×

However, Earth's new neighbour is not in a stable orbit around the planet and is most likely to escape by April.

"It is heading away from the Earth-moon system as we speak," Grigori Fedorets, a research fellow at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, told New Scientist magazine and was likely to escape in April.

The only other asteroid is known to orbit Earth, 2006 RH120, rotated the planet from September 2006 to June 2007. 

Scientists say that there is at least one mini-moon circling the planet at any given time, but most of them go undiscovered due to their small size.