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Message started by Tony on 06/16/07 at 14:49:10

Title: A new moon for Earth
Post by Tony on 06/16/07 at 14:49:10

Earth may have a temporary 2nd moon.  Captured into Earth orbit in June 2006, JPL considers this object manmade space junk, but scientists are becoming more confident that it is indeed a rock, about 4 meters wide.  Read more here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6R10DB9

Here are the results of a simulation using starting conditions supplied by JPL Horizons.  It show 6R10DB9 from its June 2006 capture into Earth orbit to its September 2007 escape.

The first image is from the top looking down, the second is from the ecliptic.
http://orbitsimulator.com/gravity/images/newMoon1.GIF
http://orbitsimulator.com/gravity/images/newMoon2.GIF

If you want to try this simulation yourself, here's the link to the simulation:
http://orbitsimulator.com/gravity/simulations/6R10DB9.gsim

Title: Re: A new moon for Earth
Post by frankuitaalst on 06/16/07 at 17:04:02

Any idea were this "thing" comes from if you go back in time ? I tried to get the ephemerides of this body in the Near Earth site of JPL but didn't find it ( "unknown") . How did you manage to get his coordinates ?

Title: Re: A new moon for Earth
Post by Tony on 06/16/07 at 18:01:14


frankuitaalst wrote:
How did you manage to get his coordinates ?

I use data from JPL Horizons.  I use a stand-along program that I wrote to automate the process of making .gsim files from Horizons data.  I'll start a new thread describing the program.

Title: Re: A new moon for Earth
Post by frankuitaalst on 06/17/07 at 09:26:28

I didn't manage to find the 6R10DB9 in the JPL-database , but ran the above .gsim reversed in time in a rotating frame rotating with earth and centered on earth .
The agif hereunder shows the body as it is trapped by earth and escapes in 2006 . Surprisingly this body must have been close to earth between 22/03/1979 and 26/01/1980 as can be seen at the end of the gif . ( The body appeared suddenly , so I wasn't able to pinpoint a more accurate date ) . Taking this close approach into account it may be manmade ...

Title: Re: A new moon for Earth
Post by frankuitaalst on 06/18/07 at 09:01:29

The body came close in 1979 as can be seen hereunder . However at its closest approach it was still outside the moon orbit (if calculations are right while the sun pressure is not taken into account ) . So little change it is manmade I think .

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