New clues indicate the Kamo’oalewa asteroid is part of the Moon

The hypothesis that the asteroid was ejected from the lunar surface after a meteorite impact is strengthened.

A team of astronomers has discovered a new footprint near an asteroid Tierra Recently discovered, KamoolawewaThis may be part of it Luna.

They hypothesized that the asteroid was ejected from the lunar surface during a meteorite impact and found that an unusual trajectory may have allowed Kamo’oalewa to enter orbit around the asteroid. Sol When close to the orbits of the Earth and the Moon.

The research team describes their findings in the Oct. 23 issue of the journal Earth and Environment Communications. Kamo’oalewa has been the subject of many astronomical studies in recent years. As a result, a Chinese mission to be launched in 2025 will land on the asteroid and return samples to Earth.

“Elements from this space body will provide us with information about the formation of Earth’s moon and improve our knowledge of near-Earth asteroids,” he said in a statement. Aaron Rosengrenis a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and one of the paper’s lead authors.

Until now, only distant asteroids beyond the orbit of Mars were thought to be sources of near-Earth asteroids, he said. Renu Malhotra, is a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona and lead author of the paper. “We are now establishing that the Moon is the source of Gamoolewa,” Malhotra said.

The implication is that there are many more lunar fragments to be discovered among the populations of near-Earth asteroids.

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Kamo’oalewa is unusual because it is an Earth quasi-satellite, a term used for asteroids whose orbits resemble Earth’s and appear to be orbiting Earth even though they are actually orbiting the Sun. Another peculiar feature of Kamo’oalewa is the length of time it has been in this type of orbit, he said. Jose Daniel Castro-CisnerosThe study’s lead author and a graduate student in the physics department at the University of Arizona was co-advised by Rosengren.

The asteroid is expected to be Earth’s companion for millions of years, alternating between its current quasi-satellite state and horseshoe-shaped parallel orbital motion, Castro-Cisneros said.

How did it get here? The research team wanted to determine the likelihood of a detached part of the Moon entering this quasi-satellite orbit, which Malhotra said was highly unlikely. Fragments of the Moon have enough kinetic energy to escape Earth-Moon system They typically have more energy to land in Earth-like quasi-satellite orbits, he said.

When the team created numerical simulations that accurately explained the gravitational forces of all the planets in the solar system, they discovered 6.6% chance Few lunar fragments can reach parallel orbits, and there is a rare probability — 0.8 percent — of a Kamo’oalewa-like erratic motion occurring.

“Modern space mission analysis and design has been using extraordinary space highways for years. We wanted to know how Kamo’oalewa fits in,” Rosengren said.

Throughout its history, the Moon has been bombarded by asteroids, which is evident in the numerous impact craters on its surface. These impacts cause lunar material to be ejected from the moon’s surface, but most of that material usually falls on the moon. Some of the ejected material becomes meteorites and falls to Earth.

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But a small fraction can escape the gravitational pull of both the Moon and Earth and orbit the Sun like other near-Earth asteroids. Numerical simulations suggest that Kamo’olewa may be one of the few fractions that managed to enter Earth’s inaccessible co-orbital space.

The findings of the study will help to better understand near-Earth asteroids Danger to Earth. Detailed studies of Kamo’oalewa will provide useful information about impact dynamics to determine whether the asteroid originated from a specific impact crater on the Moon.

Going forward, Castro-Cisneros said the team plans to identify the specific conditions that enabled Camooleva’s orbital path. The team also intends to ascertain Kamo’olewa’s exact age, he said.

“We need more information to be sure that Kamo’oalewa is indeed a fragment of the Moon, and that a space mission to this unique celestial body is warranted,” Rosengren said.

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