Astronomers discover small asteroid playing 'leap frog' with Earth - Watch

The US space agency NASA's astronomers have discovered a small asteroid that is circling the Earth as part of its orbit around the sun.

Updated: Jun 17, 2016, 00:15 AM IST
Astronomers discover small asteroid playing 'leap frog' with Earth - Watch
Photo Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/ YouTube

New Delhi: The US space agency NASA's astronomers have discovered a small asteroid that is circling the Earth as part of its orbit around the sun.

The new asteroid, named 2016 HO3 appears to circle around our planet as it orbits the sun.

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."

This small asteroid has been with us for nearly a century and will probably stay with us for centuries to come.

NASA explains that in its yearly trek around the sun, asteroid 2016 HO3 spends about half of the time closer to the sun than Earth and passes ahead of our planet, and about half of the time farther away, causing it to fall behind. Its orbit is also tilted a little, causing it to bob up and then down once each year through Earth's orbital plane. In effect, this small asteroid is caught in a game of leap frog with Earth that will last for hundreds of years.

Asteroid 2016 HO3 was first spotted on April 27, 2016, by the Pan-STARRS 1 asteroid survey telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii, which is operated by the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy and funded by NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

Watch the video:

Video credits: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Source: NASA