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Old 09-24-2020, 09:54 PM
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blackshire blackshire is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Posts: 6,090
Default A new moon is approaching! (links)

Hello All,

A new moon is approaching our planet--more on it below, but first:

The asteroid 2020 SW’s (see: ) close Earth pass is already online live: , although periapsis—its closest approach to Earth—is still some hours away). As well:

While looking at the Wikipedia list of Earth NEO—Near-Earth Object (asteroids, comets [and at times, possibly even interstellar interlopers])—close Earth flybys in 2020, I came across one NEO in the list which will become a temporary moon of the Earth! 2020 SO (see: ) was discovered on September 17, and on October 15 it will be temporarily gravitationally captured by the Earth.

Statistically, the Earth always has at least one, and possibly more, temporary asteroidal moons (see: ), which usually—but not always—orbit about a million miles out, well beyond the orbit of Luna, the Moon. The Earth also has two “cloud moons” (called Kordylewski clouds, after the Polish astronomer who first photographed them: ). They are in the Moon’s orbit, at and around the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points , which are located 60 degrees ahead of—and behind—the Moon in its orbit. (They come and go, as cosmic dust is captured in, and escapes from, the Earth/Moon L4 and L5 regions due to sunlight pressure and gravitational perturbations of the Sun and other bodies, but the dust is “replaced” more or less continuously.) Also:

It is possible that 2020 SO may be the spent final stage of a launch vehicle—specifically, the Centaur second stage of the Atlas-Centaur which boosted the Surveyor 2 robotic lander to the Moon on September 20, 1966 (the day I was born). Surveyor 2 was intended to land in Sinus Medii (Central Bay), but the failure of one of its three vernier (fine-adjustment) rocket engines to ignite during an attempted mid-course trajectory correction maneuver made the spacecraft tumble wildly, and it impacted at about 5,000 mph—the lunar escape velocity—near the crater Copernicus on September 23 (I deny any responsibility for what happened :-) ), AND:

The Centaur stage—whose four white, barrel-stave-like plastic foam insulation panels (which insulated the –423 degree Fahrenheit liquid hydrogen fuel during ascent; the panels were jettisoned as the vehicle exited the atmosphere)—was (and still is, now used in the Atlas 5 , and in the future Vulcan Centaur ) made of very shiny, thin stainless steel sheet, just like the Atlas first stages of that era (the 1950s – early 2000s). Today, Centaur stages are sprayed with brown foam insulation (like that used on the Space Shuttles’ External Tanks), which remains on the rocket’s outer skin. But Surveyor 2’s Centaur stage, being bare stainless steel, is very shiny. This very high, mirror-like albedo (reflecting power) would make the Centaur stage appear—when viewed or photographed through a telescope from hundreds of thousands or millions of miles away—to be as bright as a much larger, but much darker-surfaced, asteroid. (The S-IVB third stage of the Saturn 5 that launched the Apollo 12 lunar landing mission in November 1969 [see the “Orbital leftovers” section of this article: ] escaped into solar orbit, and in 2002 it was temporarily captured by the Earth as a “moon,” even being given the minor planet designation J002E3 before its true nature was discovered.)
Black Shire--Draft horse in human form, model rocketeer, occasional mystic, and writer, see:
All of my book proceeds go to the Northcote Heavy Horse Centre
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