Near-Earth object 2020 SO extremely close encounter: a image – 22 Nov. 2020
Next 1 Dec. 2020, the near-Earth object 2020 SO will safely have a extremely close encounter with our planet, coming as close as 50000 km (13% of the average lunar distance). Curiously, it is likely a space debris and for a few months it will be a satellite of our Earth.
The image above comes from a single, 420-seconds exposure, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the asteroid, this is why stars show as long trails, while the asteroid looks like a faint and sharp dot of light in the center of the image, marked by an arrow.
After it was discovered, 2020 SO nature was checked by JPL’s CNEOS Director Paul Chodas, who suggested it could be the Centaur upper stage rocket booster involved in the Surveyor 2 spacecraft launch toward the Moon, back in 1966.
Furthermore, it has been temporarily captured by our planet and, from to Nov. 2020 to March 2021, it will be a satellite of the Earth.
At the imaging time, 2020 SO was at about 800000 km from the Earth and approaching us.It was discovered by the Pan-STARRS Survey on 17 Sept. 2020.
This 4.5 – 10 meters large object will reach its minimum distance (about 50000 km) from us on 01 Dec. 2020, at 08:50 UTC (source: Nasa/JPL). Of course, there are no risks at all for our planet.
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