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NASA says the mysterious “mini-moon” is actually a rocket accelerator from the 60s


This 1964 photo shows a rocket from the upper stage of the Centaur. The 2020 SO space object is one of them.


Welcome back, Surveyor 2 Centaur rocket booster. We’ve just received a new chapter in a bittersweet space saga that includes a fiery launch, a doomed lunar mission, and decades of space wandering.

The NASA rocket accelerator used to launch the lunar landing gear Surveyor 2 in 1966 has returned to us for a temporary rotation as a mini-moon in orbit around the Earth. When scientists spotted it in September, they called it 2020 SO. On Wednesday, NASA announced that the strange object was positively identified as a booster from the 60’s.

While the booster did a great job back in 1966, the landing did not survive landing on the surface of the moon.

The special orbit of the booster around the sun distracted astronomers that it was probably not an asteroid, one of the many space rocks that close around our space neighborhood. Some satellites tracked the booster back to Earth in 1966.

The telescope’s observations now reveal the composition of the 2020 SO stainless steel. This space detective work involved comparing spectral data about the mysterious object with data collected on a famous Centaur booster that has been floating in space since 1971. It was a coincidence.

The object has attracted a lot of interest due to the mystery around it and the fact that it has fallen into Earth orbit, which makes it a cute little visiting mini-moon. The The virtual telescope project was broadcast live by 2020 SO when he came close to Earth on November 30th.

The Centaur’s Booster will stay with us for a few months, but is expected to continue its space adventures back in orbit around the sun sometime in March 2021. At this point, we can all say, “Good night, Centaur. Good night, mini-moon. “

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