A few days back, it has been reported that an asteroid named 2020 SO will get nabbed by the earth's gravity, and it will become a mini-moon of the blue planet by next month. But now, NASA's asteroid expert Paul Chodas has suggested that the asteroid is not an 'asteroid' at all. According to Chodas, the suspected asteroid could be actually an old rocket from a failed moon landing, happened five decades ago, and the rocket is now making its way back to earth.
What is Asteroid 2020 SO?
Chodas claimed that the asteroid 2020 SO could be most probably the Centar upper rocket stage that successfully propelled NASA's Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded. The lander crashlanded on the lunar surface as one of its thrusters failed to ignite. On the other hand, the rocket swept past the moon and into orbit around the sun as space junk, and experts never expected to see it again.
Now, experts have discovered the object using a telescope in Hawaii, which is being used to detect potentially hazardous space rocks that lurk near the earth. Upon initial analysis, scientists revealed that this object is roughly 26 feet in length.
According to Chodas, the object has a near-circular orbit around the sun, which is quite unusual for an asteroid. Interestingly, the object is in the same plane as the Earth rather than being tilted above or below, Moreover, the object is screeching towards the earth at a speed of 15,000 miles per hour, and it is very less for an asteroid.
Asteroid hunter Carrie Nugent of Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts also called Chodas' conclusion a good one, as it was based on solid evidence.
"Some more data would be useful so we can know for sure. Asteroid hunters from around the world will continue to watch this object to get that data. I'm excited to see how this develops," said Nugent, KSL reports.