With the illustrious name Temporarily Captured Object 2020 CD3, Earth's new moon might not be entertaining a manned landing at any time in the future. Especially since it's only a few feet wide. But the tiny sattelite, spotted February 15 with the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, is something to celebrate all the same.
Our new moon is probably between 1.9 and 3.5 metres across, or roughly the size of a car, making it no match for Earth's primary moon. It circles our planet about once every 47 days on a wide, oval-shaped orbit that mostly swoops far outside the larger moon's path.
The orbit isn't stable, so eventually 2020 CD3 will be flung away from Earth. "It is heading away from the Earth-moon system as we speak," says Grigori Fedorets at Queen's University Belfast in the UK, and it looks likely it will escape in April.
BIG NEWS (thread 1/3). Earth has a new temporarily captured object/Possible mini-moon called 2020 CD3. On the night of Feb. 15, my Catalina Sky Survey teammate Teddy Pruyne and I found a 20th magnitude object. Here are the discovery images. pic.twitter.com/zLkXyGAkZl
— Kacper Wierzchos (@WierzchosKacper) February 26, 2020