Asteroid the size of Disney castle may be piece of Earth’s Moon – study

Does Earth have a second moon? Some might suggest so. The asteroid known as Kamoʻoalewa is the planet’s most stable quasi-satellite in terms of its orbit, but while it likely might not qualify as a moon, it may in fact be a piece of our own, a new study has suggested. Discovered in 2016 by scientists at the University of Hawaii, the asteroid, also designated 469219 (2016 HO3), takes its name from the Hawaiian language and is a combination of words meaning “the,” “fragment,” “of” and “to oscillate.” The asteroid itself is only around 46 meters to 58 meters in diameter, comparable in size to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy or the Cinderella Castle in Disney World. As such, while its proximity to the planet has caused it to be labeled a Near-Earth Object (NEO), it is not considered a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), which are at minimum 140 meters in size. But what is especially interesting about it is its orbit and relationship to Earth. Kamoʻoalewa is designated as an Apollo-class asteroid, meaning its orbit around the Sun frequently puts it close to Earth. However, the Earth’s orbit has an effect on the asteroid as well. Essentially, it rotates around the Sun closer than Earth, but often crosses outside Earth’s orbit.

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