Get ready to say goodbye to our fugitive mini-moon, a junk relic of our former space age, as it prepares to orbit Earth for the last two times before catapulting off to the sun.
The object — an upper-stage rocket booster of the spaceship Centaur, which was once called America’s workhorse in space, and is known as 2020 SO — drifted into Earth’s sphere of gravity last year and became a new and temporary mini-moon.
The object will make two make two final, large loops around our planet before escaping our gravity in March, according to EarthSky.
Analysis of the space object’s motion when it was just 30,000 miles from Earth on Dec. 1 allowed NASA to confirm that the object’s identity.
“It’ll no longer be a mini-moon for Earth,” said EarthSky. “Instead, it’ll be orbiting the sun.”
You can see 2020 SO online at the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome on Feb. 1. when a live feed farewell is scheduled for 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.