NASA

1960s Era Rocket May Have Returned to Earth Orbit | Voice of America - English


Scientists at the U.S. space agency NASA say the remnants of a 1960s unmanned lunar mission may have returned to orbit the Earth 54 years later.


Scientists first discovered the object in September, using a special survey telescope on the Hawaiian island of Maui.


CNEOS Director Paul Chodas says further study and measurements of the object made it clear it was likely man-made, based on its size and density, and likely a piece of a rocket.


Chodas suspected it was a remnant of a lunar mission, and to prove it, he ran 2020 SO’s orbit backwards, tracing its closest path to Earth to September 1966.


That matched the launch date for NASA’s Surveyor 2 lunar lander, an unmanned probe designed to land on the surface of the Moon and survey possible landing sites ahead of the Apollo missions, which would put men on the lunar surface for the first time in 1969.


NASA scientists believe Earth’s gravity pulled 2020 SO into an outer orbit on November 8, circling about 1.5 million kilometers above our planet.






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