NASA Discovers a Second Moon Circling Earth

By: | July 8th, 2016

Image courtesy NASA

Astronomers have detected a small asteroid in Earth’s orbit, and the tiny celestial body has earned NASA’s recognition as Earth’s new “mini moon.” Dubbed as “2016 HO3,” this small second moon is very far away, and it orbits irregularly.

Here are a few things to know about Earth’s second moon:

  • It was first spotted on April 27, 2016.
  • Asteroid 2016 HO3 measures somewhere between 40-100m (120 to 300 ft) across and has probably been around for about 100 years.
  • Like our moon, 2016 HO3 isn’t actually orbiting Earth but is taking a path around the sun which overlaps with our own.
  • NASA scientists called it a ‘quasi-satellite’ or near-Earth companion as it is far too distant to be considered a true natural satellite of Earth.
  • This tiny cosmic dancer spends about half of the year in front of us and the other half trailing behind. However, it never goes farther than about 100 times the distance from the Earth to the moon, and never comes closer than about 38 times the distance of the moon, or about 14 million km.
  • As per scientists, this little asteroid is expected to stick with us for centuries to come.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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