Discovered as part of the Pan-STARRS1 survey by the Hawaiian Haleakala Observatory on September 17, 2020, a space object, dubbed 2020 SO, may turn out to be artificial. Scientists initially mistook it for a small asteroid. However, further observations of him showed behavior uncharacteristic for such types of objects.
According to Paul Chodas, one of the researchers at NASA’s Near-Earth Objects Research Center, it moves too slowly for an asteroid, is in the same plane as the Earth, and also has an almost circular orbit around the Sun, like the Earth. … All of this indicates that 2020 SO cannot be an asteroid, but is an object of artificial origin.
No, this is not about aliens. But the real story of 2020 SO might be just as interesting. Some experts suggest that it may be part of a rocket from the lunar race between the USA and the USSR in the mid-60s of the last century.
2020 SO measures about 8 meters in length. The upper stage of the Atlas-Centaurus launch vehicle (pictured above), launched on September 20, 1966, as part of the Surveyor 2 space mission, which involved the landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the lunar surface, had about the same length. However, the mission was doomed to failure. The initial launch was successful, but the subsequent release of one of the correcting engines led to a loss of communication with the device, as a result of which an accident occurred on September 22.
An amateur astronomer and physicist Tony Dunn shared on Twitter a simulation demonstrating predicting the trajectory of 2020 SO.
Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 – May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture through L2, and escape through L1. Highly-chaotic path, so be prepared for lots of revisions as new observations come in. @renerpho @ nrco0e https://t.co/h4JaG2rHEd pic.twitter.com/RfUaeLtEWq
– Tony Dunn (@ tony873004) September 20, 2020
According to Paul Chodas, 2020 SO has roughly the same trajectory as a portion of a booster rocket launched as part of a lunar mission would travel, orbit the Moon and go into orbit around the Sun. Comparing all the facts, scientists suggested that this is the old Atlas-Centaurus rocket, or rather one of its stages.
The object will approach the Earth in mid-November, then the specialists plan to study it in more detail and determine what it really is.
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