Earth's second moon has been discovered by a Canadian amateur astronomer. So far, it's known only as J002E3, and circles the Earth every 49.5 days along an elliptical path which is sometimes as far away as 520,000 miles from Earth. Some scientists think it's an asteroid?although most asteroids orbit the Earth, not the moon. Some think it could be space junk that's been sucked into orbit. If it's an asteroid, then according to its reflected light, it?s about 50 yards wide; if it?s space junk that was painted white (and thus reflects more light), it could be half that size.
If it is a moon, it?s a new one. Any object bright enough to have been picked up by an amateur telescope would be too bright to have escaped discovery by NASA. Paul Chodas of NASA thinks it was "likely captured from heliocentric orbit during the April/May time period" when it strayed to a spot where the Earth's and the sun's gravitational pulls cancel each other out.
In 1991 two objects in orbit around the sun were first classified as asteroids but turned out to be manmade satellites. Astronomer Duncan Steel says, "We have seen returning spacecraft before, but this one is different. It has recently arrived in orbit around our planet. Astronomers have made mistakes with returned rocket bodies before. If this really is a new moon?an asteroid captured into orbit around the Earth?then it heralds a great new era of space exploitation. It will be the easiest celestial object to get to, and so a wonderful source of raw materials. When we start building space colonies, this could be where we get the metals and oxygen."
UPDATE: It looks like we do not have a new moon after all. The latest analysis of the mysterious object orbiting the moon suggests it may be a leftover Saturn V rocket component from the Apollo 12 lunar mission launched on November 14, 1969. The object was in orbit around the Sun until April, when it was captured by the Earth's gravity. The capture occurred when the object passed near a region of space where the gravity of the Earth and Sun cancel each other out. This is the first known case of an object being captured by the Earth, although Jupiter has captured comets in the same way. Scientists think there is a chance it may impact the Moon in 2003 or burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. Proponents of the ET theory may feel that this new moon could be some sort of spaceship. Lissette Larkins tells about the ET messages she?s received personally in ?Talking With Extraterrestrials? and Nancy Red Star tells about ET messages received by American Indians and other indigenous people in ?Legends of the Star Ancestors?, click here. To learn more,2763,789827,00.html,click here and here.
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