A little space rock with strange origins

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a relatively small piece of rock What sticks closer to Earth in its orbit around the Sun may actually be a broken part of the Moon, according to a new study.

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why it matters: Learning more about the possible origins of mysterious objects in nearby space could also help researchers piece together evolution from the earliest days of our solar system to the present.

state of play: New one Study in the magazine Nature Communications Earth and Environment The object suggests that Kamo’Olewa has properties that indicate it may actually be a piece of the Moon that broke off while near Earth and orbits the Sun.

  • Originally, scientists thought that Kamo’Oleva, which was discovered in 2016, was an asteroid captured by Earth’s gravity at some point in the past, but this new data suggests otherwise.
  • The team used a telescope to piece together a spectrum — reflected light — from the surface of the space rock and match it to those of the Moon rocks, which look very similar.
  • “This spring, we got much-needed follow-up observations and went, ‘Wow, this is real,'” said study author Ben Sharkey in a statement. Statement, “With the Moon it is easier to interpret than other ideas.”
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Big question: How did Kamoaleva separate from the Moon and form?

  • Scientists don’t yet have the answer to that question, but it’s possible that a meteor impact cut off some material from the Moon, making it a Ferris wheel-shaped object.

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