Earth has always had two moons!
If you always thought Earth has just one moon, you might be mistaken. A new study has not only revealed that our planet has another moon but also that this moon has been orbiting it right from the start...Updated: Dec 22, 2011 17:40 IST
But it was actually a small asteroid captured by the Earth’s gravitational field that rotated around the Earth until June 2007.
In the new study, astrophysicists at Cornell claim that this little moon was not an anomaly as these asteroids come and go so often it means our planet always has a temporary second moon.
According to Cornell University’s Mikael Granvik, Jeremie Vaubaillon and Robert Jedicke, they have calculated the population of "irregular natural satellites that are temporarily captured" by Earth.
In their study, researchers say that while these moons are small, the scientific implications of this discovery are phenomenal.
"At any given time, there should be at least one natural Earth satellite of 1-meter diameter orbiting the Earth," the Daily Mail quoted the team as saying.
Instead of having to send crews to asteroids astronomers can wait until they come closer to Earth to intercept and learn more about the origins of our solar system.
Although the small asteroids, which measure just a few metres across they qualified as a natural satellite just like our Moon, are difficult to track, astronomers believe they could potentially save millions if NASA waited for it to orbit the earth, instead of launching missions into the solar system.
Even though NASA couldn't land on an asteroid, which was just a few metres, it could get close to collect information on fact finding missions.
The study has been published on the Cornell University website.
First Published: Dec 22, 2011 17:29 IST