We could have a new space neighbor, at least for a while. Astronomers at the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey reckon they’ve spotted an that’s caught in Earth’s gravity.
“Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3. On the night of Feb. 15, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne and I found a 20th magnitude object,” Kacper Wierzchos tweeted Tuesday.
Wierzchos calculated that the asteroid is between 1.9 and 3.5 meters in diameter. The Minor Planet Center acknowledged the near-Earth object, and it apparently entered Earth’s orbit around three years ago. The Catalina Sky Survey is based at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson.
It’s the second asteroid that’s known to have entered Earth’s orbit. The previous one, 2006 RH120, was also discovered by the CSS and orbited Earth for 18 months over 2006 and 2007, as noted by science writer Corey S. Powell.
The CSS didn’t respond to a request for comment.
First published Feb. 26, 4:35 a.m. PT.
Updates 5:14 a.m. PT: Adds more detail, 7:08 a.m. PT: Corrects diameter from miles to meters.