Turns out the Earth has had a “Mini-moon” on the side for over a century, and even though the relationship has been exposed, the partnership is likely to continue for centuries to come.
What’s interesting about the asteroid is that because of its particular orbit around the sun, it’s a continuous companion to Earth.
“Since 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a NASA news release.
The asteroid has a very irregular orbit, which causes it to drift between 38 and 100 times the distance of our planet’s loyal, primary moon.
“The same effect also prevents the asteroid from approaching much closer than about 38 times the distance of the moon. In effect, this small asteroid is caught in a little dance with Earth.”