In 2006 Mystery Object RH120 was Earth’s 1st Documented Temporary Moon

   Moon-earth-02

A new study of the way Earth captures asteroids suggests that our planet  should have at least one extra moon at any one time. In 2006, the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona noticed that a mysterious body had begun orbiting the Earth with a spectrum that was similar to the titanium white paint used on Saturn V rocket stages and, indeed, a number of rocket stages are known to orbit the Sun close to Earth.


But object 2006 RH120, as it became known, was not artificial; it turned out to be a tiny asteroid just a few meterss across captured by Earth's gravity in September 2006. The object orbited Earth until June 2007 when it wandered off into the Solar System. 

There should be numerous such examples, says Mikael Granvik and team at the University of Hawaii who have modelled the way the Earth-Moon system captures these objects to understand how frequently we can expect to have additional moons and the duration of their orbits.

"At any given time, there should be at least one natural Earth satellite of 1-meter diameter orbiting the Earth," say Granvik. These objects should make about three revolutions of the plane

The Daily Galaxy via technologyreview.com and Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1112.3781: The Population Of Natural Earth Satellites

error

"The Galaxy" in Your Inbox, Free, Daily