The Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite formed 4.6 million years ago. However, to many people’s surprise, the Moon is no longer the only satellite orbiting the Earth. It appears that there is another asteroid that circles around the Earth.
This is a small asteroid and it has been discovered that it is in an orbit around the Sun. It was first noticed in 2016 with the help of a telescope operated by the University of Hawaii Astronomy Institute. It was named Asteroid 2016 HO3. It is considered an asteroid and not a satellite because of its distance from the Earth i.e. it is too far to be considered a true satellite of the Earth.
Therefore, this new Earth’s companion is called “a quasi-satellite”. This quasi-satellite unlike the previous asteroid that followed a similar orbital route but disappeared seems to be much more attached to our planet. Based on the scientific calculations 2016 HO3 is a stable quasi-satellite and has been orbiting the Earth for almost a century.
Scientists believe that this asteroid will be Earth’s companion for many centuries to come following the same orbital pattern. The size of 2016 HO3 has not been determined yet but it is supposed that its size is between 40 meters and 100 meters i.e. more precisely, it is believed that it reaches 91 meters size.
When orbiting the Sun, 2016 HO3 spends more time closer to the Sun than to the Earth and passes it faster than the Earth thus leaving the Earth behind. The asteroid movements in combination with the Earth’s gravity do not allow it to come too close to the Earth but still within its range so that it would never wonder away.
This asteroid is considered to be Earth’s second moon. It is also called Earth’s mini moon. The reason for this classification is that by definition any object in the universe that orbits a planet can be regarded as a moon i.e. a natural moon. Since there is no minimum size or a mass required to be classified as a moon Asteroid 2016 H03 can be considered as the second Earth’s moon i.e. in conclusion, everything that orbits the Planet Earth naturally, regardless of the size and mass can be considered its Moon.
Also, astronomers suggest that due to the massive amounts of asteroids present in the solar system it is of no surprise that the chances for having one of them in the Earth’s gravitational field are considerably high. The most striking aspect of these discoveries is that theoretically the Earth could have an infinite number of satellites.
The observation centers keep lists of all recent and future approaches including data on the orbits of already known near-Earth objects. As a result, scientists, members , the media and the public can use the website of these centers for near-Earth object approaches and track necessary information on known and upcoming objects.
Due to this dynamical relationship with the Earth, 2016 HO3 can serve as a potentially accessible target for future study.