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Kamo`oalewa, the asteroid that orbits close to the Earth

The conclusions of a group of experts is that Kamo’oalewa was formed due to an ancient impact of a space object with the Moon.

The list of asteroids traveling towards Earth, or orbiting around it, is long and raises many questions about them. However, little is known about the so-called quasi-satellites, a kind of small bodies in the Solar System that they orbit the Sun but remain close to the Earth. One of the best known is the asteroid Kamo`oalewa.

In recent days it has been concluded that Kamo`oalewa could be a fragment that fell off the Moon and that it now travels like an asteroid around the Earth.

A team of scientists led by University of Arizona researcher Benjamin NL Sharkey is on the trail of the Kamo`oalewa, also known as (469219) Asteroid 2016 HO3.

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How the Kamo’oalewa quasi-satellite was formed

The conclusions of this group of experts is that Kamo`oalewa was formed due to an ancient impact of an object with the Moon. Hence, this body is composed of elements extremely similar to those of our natural satellite.

The results of this research are published this week in the specialized journal Communications Earth & Environment in a text that has as title: Lunar-like silicate material forms the Earth quasisatellite (469219) 2016 HO3 Kamo`oalewa.

One of the main findings that scientists made of this asteroid is that it had a red reflectance spectrum, very similar to the minerals found on the surface of the Moon.

“This spectrum is indicative of a silicate-based composition, but with a reddening beyond what is typically seen among asteroids in the inner solar system,” Sharkey explains.

what is a quasi-satellite
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“We compared the spectrum with that of various analogous materials and came to the conclusion that the highest coincidences produced with lunar-like silicates. An interpretation that implies a great spatial erosion and that raises the possibility that Kamo’oalewa may contain material from the Moon, “says the scientist.

Another clue that makes experts think that this asteroid is of lunar origin is its orbit. It is similar to that of the Earth, but with a slight inclination. Likewise, it is not the typical asteroids near our planet, according to Renu Malhotra, co-author of the study and professor of planetary sciences at UArizona.

“It is highly unlikely that a lifelong asteroid near Earth will spontaneously move into a near-satellite orbit like Kamo’oalewa,” says Malhotra, whose lab is working on a paper to investigate further the origins of the asteroid. “It will not stay in this particular orbit for very long, only about 300 years into the future, and we estimate that it reached this orbit about 500 years ago.”

What does Kamo’oalewa mean

Kamo`oalewa was discovered by the PanSTARRS telescope in Hawaii in 2016. The name comes from a Hawaiian song of creation that alludes to an offspring that travels on its own. The asteroid is approximately 150 to 190 feet in diameter and comes within about 9 million miles of Earth.

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