Astronomers Struggle to Understand What is This Mysterious Object That’s Heading Towards Earth

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A mysterious object dubbed as 2020 SO will fly past the Earth today, December 1st. Despite their efforts, astronomers still don’t know what exactly the object is and where it came from. NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) reveals that the object will get within 31,605 miles of Earth at 3:50 a.m. ET.

The mysterious object will be passing at a distance equivalent to around 13 percent of the distance between Earth and the moon. The distance between our natural satellite and our planet is 238,900 miles.

No need to worry

There’s no reason to worry that the object will collide with Earth, regardless of the origin of the first. Furthermore, the unknown object measures only between 15-33 feet across, and it was discovered in September by the Pan-STARRS survey from the Maui, Hawaii. The orbital period of 2020 SO is a bit more than a year: 387 days.

CNEOS director Paul Chodas proposed the idea that 2020 SO is not an asteroid at all. Instead, the object could be belonging to the Centaur rocket booster from NASA’s Surveyor 2 lunar mission from 1966.

Chodas declared:

One of the possible paths for 2020 SO brought the object very close to Earth and the Moon in late September 1966,

It was like a eureka moment when a quick check of launch dates for lunar missions showed a match with the Surveyor 2 mission.

2020 SO was caught by our planet’s gravity on November 8, and it will be a satellite of Earth until March 2021. At that later date, the mysterious object will escape into a new orbit around the sun.

2020 SO could be a piece of space junk from the 1960s, an asteroid, or God knows what else. Hopefully, astronomers will get a more convincing answer soon enough, and our website will gladly keep you up-to-date.