- Scientists assert to have identified an incredibly unusual sort of meteor identified as a minimoon.
- The researchers analyzed the trajectory of the extremely-vivid meteor, which slid across the sky in 2016.
- In 2014, a meteor that entered Earth’s ambiance was suspected to have arrive from a minimoon.
You know the moon. You like the moon. It is a fairly excellent moon! But have you heard of the “minimoons”—also referred to as briefly captured orbiters—that often orbit Earth? They’re tiny, purely natural satellites that have been swept up in our planet’s orbit and only continue to be for a short time in advance of becoming flung out into house or sucked into Earth’s ambiance by gravity.
Experts suspect there’s likely a 1-garden-large minimoon circling Earth at any provided minute, according to Astronomy.com. Most are very small, and only 1 has been formally observed: 2006 RH120, which circled the world for 11 months ahead of escaping again into house. Spotting them is an exceptionally unusual treat.
But spotting meteors that variety from them is even rarer—and now a crew of researchers from Curtin University in Australia claims to have accomplished just that.
Using information gathered by Australia’s Desert Fireball Network, the researchers identified a meteor that originated from a single of these minimoons, in accordance to new investigate revealed in The Astronomical Journal. Only 1 minimoon fireball has at any time been noticed, captured on digicam in 2014 by a team of scientists in Europe.
The new meteor, dubbed DN160822_03, exploded throughout the night sky above Australia on August 22, 2016. The researchers classified the unusually vibrant meteor as a minimoon by calculating its trajectory. They hope that by learning these rare Earth orbiters, they can better have an understanding of how these wayward objects uncover their way over to our world.
And there may possibly be other rewards in learning the tiny satellites. For case in point, they could be applied for scientific sample return missions, or even for the mining of precious metals and other elements.
“Minimoons are actually great since they are the most available item to get to from Earth in the solar system,” planetary scientist and review author Patrick Shober instructed Astronomy.com.