This asteroid haunting Earth may have been torn from Moon; Indian scientist shows | Tech News

This asteroid haunting Earth may have been torn from Moon; Indian scientist shows

  • When our Moon lost a piece of itself and the resulting asteroid is still haunting Earth.

| Updated on: Aug 21 2022, 21:46 IST
An artist's impression of Earth quasi-satellite Kamo`oalewa near the Earth-moon system. Astronomers have shown it might be a lost fragment of the moon. (Addy Graham/University of Arizona)

Our moon always looks serene and untroubled. Mostly it is so, but this wasn't always the case. In fact, the face of the moon is marked by a massive number of craters, indicting that many asteroids and other space objects may have crashed into it in ancient times. Now, an Indian researcher and his student have found that an asteroid that has been haunting Earth for a long time, may well be a lost piece of the moon. Whether it was torn out of the moon in a crash with a massive object some time in its early history is still unclear. This object has become a quasi-asteroid and it is circling the Earth, and the moon, ever since. In fact, It was defying all attempts by researchers to classify it, till now, when new data from very large telescopes provided the information required to identify the composition of the asteroid.

This asteroid dubbed Kamo'oalewa, was being studied Vishnu Reddy, an associate professor in cosmochemistry and planetary astronomy at the University of Arizona. He was assisted by his PhD student Benjamin Sharkey. They published their study in the journal Communications Earth & Environment. The asteroid gave up its secrets when Sharkey managed to get access to some of teh most powerful space telescopes on Earth and directed them to study Kamo. The results were shocking for Reddy and Sharkey. "We couldn't believe the way it was looking because it was unlike anything we've seen before," Reddy revealed to However, they are still not sure how the asteroid may have broken loose from the moon.

The asteroid itself was discovered just half a decade or so ago, in 2016. Kamo always stays close to the orbit of the Earth. The remarkable part is that most such asteroids usually disappear after a few years, but not Kamo.

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The data from the Large Binocular Telescope in the US and the infrared Lowell Discovery Telescope revealed what Kamo'oalewa was made of. The deduction is made on the basis of how this asteroid, or for that matter, any asteroid, reflects light, and this reveals its composition. For Kamo, it was remarkably similar to what our Moon is made up of. The light spectra was similar to Moon rocks brought to Earth by the Apollo space missions that were carried out in the 1960s and 1970s.

Are Reddy and Sharkey right? The solid truth may well emerge very soon. China is set to send a probe of its own to this asteroid in 2024. What is more, the goal of the mission is to bring a sample of Kamo back to Earth.

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First Published Date: 12 Nov, 10:45 IST