Newly discovered asteroid quasi-moon of Earth

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A newly discovered asteroid has a solar orbit that makes it Earth’s constant companion.

As it orbits the sun, this new asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, appears to circle around Earth as well. It is too distant to be considered a true satellite of our planet, but it is the best and most stable example to date of a near-Earth companion, or “quasi-satellite.”

“Since 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “One other asteroid — 2003 YN107 — followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over 10 years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity. This new asteroid is much more locked onto us. Our calculations indicate 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for almost a century, and it will continue to follow this pattern as Earth’s companion for centuries to come.”

The asteroid is thought to be between 120 to 300 feet across.


  • PeterF

    What a great candidate for the first attempt at asteroid mining!

  • LocalFluff

    I haven’t seen any info on what type it is, but its mass and shape will certainly be well determined by radar and its orbit, it might become the best known asteroid and can maybe be reached cheaply by minisats. But at 38 lunar distances when at the closest, it is too a long trip for an Orion and too big to be towed. It doesn’t help the now dead ARM idea.

  • PeterF

    We all know that just a few years ago it was impossible to land a rocket like Flash Gordon. A bureaucratic manager will almost always knee jerk tell you the reasons why something cannot be done. A leader, on the other hand, will weigh possible avenues to accomplish something before telling you your an idiot.
    “I could move the world if I had a long enough lever and somewhere to place a fulcrum”
    Perhaps an experimental solar powered (don’t even suggest nuclear power) ion engined (or solar sail) vehicle can be sent to gently push the rock into geosynchronous orbit? Even if it doesn’t contain refinable material, the mass can become an anchor platform on which can be constructed a permanent space station.

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