Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I- Geography
- Astronomers have observed a small object orbiting Earth- named 2020 CD3 – which they have dubbed a “mini-moon” or the planet’s “second moon”.
- However, it is actually an asteroid, about the size of a car with diameter about 1.9-3.5 m. Such an asteroid is called a Temporarily Captured Object (TCO)
- Unlike Earth’s permanent Moon, the mini-moon is temporary which will eventually break free of Earth’s orbit and go off on its own way.
- Explanation: When an asteroid’s orbit crosses Earth’s orbit, it can sometimes be captured into the latter orbit. This is what happened with 2020 CD3. The orbits of such objects is unstable
- Did You know? The previously discovered 2006 RH120 orbited Earth for some time in 2006 before it escaped in 2007
- Once caught in Earth’s orbit, such objects usually remain for a few years before they break free and go into independent orbit around the Sun.