February 19, 2020, Astronomers at Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona spotted an object in the sky, moving swiftly and little dim. After a detailed technical discussion the super excited Astronomers decide that our Earth might have a new moon and its tiny, roughly the size of an SUV. Over the next few days, researchers at other observatories around the world followed the object and calculated its orbit. They confirmed that it has been gravitationally bound to Earth for about three years. They designated it with the name "2020 CD3". Temporary but we have a second moon.
Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2020CD3.jpg License under "Create Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International" license. Moon's orbit is shown as the white path. Red path is of 2020 CD3.
Minor Planet Center, a body that monitors small bodies in space, has stated that there is no link found to a known artificial object. This implies that this celestial body is indeed an asteroid which is caught by the Earth's gravity as it was passing by.
This isn't the first time Earth has multiple moons. In fact, this is only the second time the Earth captured an asteroid which we could call a mini-moon. The first one was named "2006 RH120". It orbited around the earth between September 2006 and June 2007 before escaping.
Our new moon is approximately 2 to 3.5 meters across or roughly the size of an SUV. With so small size it is no match for Earth's primary satellite Moon. 2020 CD3 is currently orbiting around our home planet. Its orbit is wide oval shaped and it travels mostly far outside the primary moon's path. It circles the Earth once in about every 47 days.
2020CD3 is the temporary moon. It is heading away from our little Earth-Moon system and eventually it will be projected away from earth. Most likely it will escape the Earth's gravitational force in April 2023.
However, there are several different simulations of its trajectory and they all don't match or agree with. More detailed observations are needed and being made to predict with more accuracy the fate of our mini moon and even to confirm that it is definitely a temporary moon and not just a piece of artificial space debris.
"It's not my Tesla Roadster", said Elon Musk jokingly.
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