A strange space object approaching Earth is about to get captured by our gravity and become a new, temporary “mini-moon.”
The object, which is dubbed 2020 SO, could be an asteroid. Or it could be part of the Surveyor 2, a robotic spacecraft launched to the moon on Sept. 20, 1966, according to the science and nature website EarthSky.org
Traveling at the extremely-slow-for-space speed of 1,880 miles per hour, the object was seen last week by astronomers in Hawaii, and it’s on course to be captured by Earth from October 2020 until around May 2021, according to EarthSky.
“It won’t be the first time Earth has captured a mini-moon, but this object is unusual and perhaps no ordinary asteroid. It might be a lost rocket, originally launched from Earth more than 50 years ago,” the article says.
The hitch: If it turns out to be space junk, it won’t technically be considered a mini-moon.
“Is 2020 SO an ordinary asteroid? Or is it an old earthly rocket returning home? We just don’t know yet,” EarthSky writes.
Astronomers here on Earth discovered another temporary mini-moon back in February that they determined had been tagging along with us for about three years.