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Astronomers Discover Possible 60s-Era Moon Rocket Booster Heading Back To Earth

An anonymous reader quotes Teslarati:
On August 19th this year, astronomers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System observatory in Hawaii spotted an object destined to enter Earth orbit this fall. Designated as object 2020 SO, the item is now believed to be a rocket booster from NASA’s Surveyor 2 mission which crash landed on the Moon in 1966 during the Apollo-era of the Cold War’s space race.

“I suspect this newly discovered object 2020 SO to be an old rocket booster because it is following an orbit about the Sun that is extremely similar to Earth’s, nearly circular, in the same plane, and only slightly farther away the Sun at its farthest point,” Dr. Paul Chodas, the director of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, explained in comments to CNN.

“That’s precisely the kind of orbit that a rocket stage separated from a lunar mission would follow, once it passes by the Moon and escapes into orbit about the Sun. It’s unlikely that an asteroid could have evolved into an orbit like this, but not impossible,” he said. This specific type of event has only happened once before, namely in 2002 with a Saturn V upper stage from Apollo 12, according to Dr. Chodas.

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