Fake Asteroid? Mystery Object Seen by NASA is a Piece of Rocket From an Old Failed Moon Mission
Image for representation.
In 1966, a moon landing was attempted by NASA. Something went wrong, and the rocket was swooped away into the sun’s orbit, instead of its intended lunar landing. NASA never saw their expensive rocket again.
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A ‘mini-moon’ was spotted orbiting the Earth by Catalina Sky survey in September. At the time, a scientist had suggested it wasn’t an asteroid but a part of the Surveyor 2 lunar lander mission that wasn’t exactly successful. Turns out, he was right.
In 1966, a moon landing was attempted by NASA. Something went wrong, and the rocket was swooped away into the sun’s orbit, instead of its intended lunar landing. NASA never saw their expensive rocket again. They would see it again, 54 years later, only some scientists would confuse it to be an asteroid hurtling towards Earth.
The approximately 26 feet long mystery object was spotted by a telescope in Hawaii. It was seen speeding toward us at a speed of 1,500 mph (2414 km) which is fairly below average, as far as speeding asteroids are considered. At the time, the discoverers of the ‘asteroid’ had named it ‘asteroid 2020 SO’. However, now it is nearly confirmed that it is, in fact, Centaur rocket, or whatever remains of it, that was used to propel the American Surveyor 2 Lander.
The mission did not go exactly as planned. Once the rocket released its payload, it got swept away from the moon and into the Sun’s orbit. Whereas its lander crashed into the moon after one of its thrusters failed to ignite.
But as the famous saying goes whatever goes around, comes around. And the rocket that went away indeed seems to be coming around.
Paul Chodas, the director of Centre for Near-Earth object Studies at NASA, was the first to claim in September that it wasn’t any space rock but their own rocket coming back home, or at least, coming near home.
According to Daily Mail, he was quoted saying that he is “pretty jazzed-up” regarding this development. He said it has been his hobby for some time to find such and thing and then theorize possible links. “I could be wrong on this. I don’t want to appear overly confident,” he said.
He is fairly positive as the “pieces fit together.” It fits well with the launch date, it is moving much slower than known asteroid speeds, and unlike asteroids which are tilted towards Earth, it is in the same plane as our planet.
However, the ‘asteroid’ or former remains of a space rocket, however one chooses to see it, will not likely actually land on Earth. It will probably remain in the orbit for four more months then get pushed back into Sun’s orbit. It will remain in the space, a proof of the once unsuccessful launch.