Space is big enough and complex enough that there is always something new to be discovered. There are planets and phenomenon out there that are just waiting to be found. But what happens when a discovery is made in our own “galactic backyard”?
According to NASA, a small asteroid has been discovered in orbit around the sun that also circles around the earth as well, traveling between 38 to 100 times the distances of the moon. Designated as 2016 H03 by scientists, this cosmic dance partner to our very own Earth bobs and weaves through Earth’s orbital plane like a tiny dancer due to its uniquely tilted orbit.
At only 40 meters across and 100 meters wide and with an elliptical tilt of 8°, 2016 H03 has already captured all of our hearts –which is pretty remarkable, since it has only been orbiting the Earth for about 100 years (a short time when you’re an asteroid!). Luckily, it plans to stick around for centuries to come.
Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies was the first person to refer to 2016 H03’s orbit as a dance, stating, “In effect, this small asteroid is caught in a little dance with Earth.” Since then, many others have been describing the path of 2016 H03 as a dance.
It is exciting to see the appreciation of art and beauty from a NASA spokesperson, and from the rest of the world as a whole. In this scientific age, humans may try to believe that they know everything, but all it takes is one tiny asteroid with a bit of flair to prove that there is always more to be discovered and understood.
Earth’s tiny dancer was discovered by the Pan-STARRS 1 asteroid survey telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii, operated by the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy.
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