Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Earth may have hundreds of tiny moons

The asteroid is called 2006 RH120, and oddly enough from about 7/2006 to about 7/2007 it was a temporary moon of the Earth. Being only a few meters across and it was first thought to be a spent rocket stage but further studies showed it to be an asteroid.

The discovery of 2006 RH120 lead to a computer study that shows that at any given time the Earth probably has as many as 100 of the tiny moons at any given time, but they drift in and out of Earth orbit after staying around for a few months to a few hundred years. They tend to be small and dim making them hard to find but it is still an interesting discovery.

One value to search for them is that some are likely small enough to bring to Earth for study. Also the possibility exists of doing so a mining operation. 

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