Scientists: Asteroid in an orbit entwined with the Earth might be Moon rock

Data obtained by scientists using ground-based telescopes now suggests that the small asteroid Kamo`oalewa, which has an orbit that makes it a quasi-Moon of the Earth, might have originally come from the Moon.

From their paper’s abstract:

We find that (469219) Kamoʻoalewa rotates with a period of 28.3 (+1.8/−1.3) minutes and displays a reddened reflectance spectrum from 0.4–2.2 microns. This spectrum is indicative of a silicate-based composition, but with reddening beyond what is typically seen amongst asteroids in the inner solar system. We compare the spectrum to those of several material analogs and conclude that the best match is with lunar-like silicates. This interpretation implies extensive space weathering and raises the prospect that Kamo’oalewa could comprise lunar material.

Kam’oalewa — which is only about 150 feet across — is one of five such quasi-Earth-moons. All orbit the Sun in orbits that are similar to the Earth’s and are such that the asteroids periodically loop around our planet each year.

This data will be useful to the Chinese, who are planning a mission to Kamo-oalewa in ’24 to grab samples.