"School-Bus Sized" Asteroid May Be An Old NASA Rocket

October 12, 2020
Asteroid over Earth

© Elenarts / iStock / Getty Images Plus


Proof that what you lose isn't always lost, a piece of NASA's past is coming by for a visit. Last month a telescope in Hawaii discovered a mystery object, estimated to be about 26 feet long (the length of a school bus) and assumed it was an asteroid caught in the sun's gravity.  They even gave it the name, "asteroid 2020SO."  But this asteroid was different than others.  First the object's near perfect circle around the sun, which is unusual.  It also is in the same plane as Earth, not tilted above or below.  It also is going much slower than an asteroid. It has led many to believe that object is not an asteroid but part of an Atlas-Centaur rocket that propelled America’s Surveyor 2 lander to the Moon 54 years ago. The Surveyor 2 spacecraft launched from Cape Kennedy on September 20, 1966 and was to be the second unmanned lunar lander in to explore the Moon. However once separated from the rocket, one of Surveyor 2's engines failed, causing it to crash into the Moon two days later.  The rocket itself shot around the moon and began to orbit the sun. However the elliptical orbit of Earth around the sun bring this piece of space junk close enough to Earth’s gravity to capture it for an orbit around Earth for about four months starting in mid-November before it once again starts to orbit the sun in March 2021. The good news is the object is not expected to slam into Earth, this time.  It is quite possible this spent rocket will interact with Earth's gravity in the future, finally bring it home in a fireball.

SOURCE: Daily Mail

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