Earth has had a ‘fake moon’ for thousands of years

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Earlier this year, astronomers* discovered a “quasi-moon” or “fake moon” orbiting the Earth. The satellite has been accompanying Earth since 100 BC and will continue for the next 1,500 years.

2023 FW13 orbits the Sun
The 2023 FW13, named celestial body, is an asteroid not in orbit around the Earth. Only 10 to 15 meters in diameter, 2023 FW13 is orbiting the Sun but near Earth.

There have been several encounters in the past with celestial bodies that researchers* have been able to identify as quasi-moons. However, 2023 FW13 is the longest existing satellite discovered so far.

Interesting for space missions
Although Earth’s gravity does not trap it, 2023 FW13 is so close to Earth that it is also of interest to future space missions. The asteroid would be an excellent exercise for “deep space” missions, as it would only take a few months to reach the celestial body.

The search for a second near-Earth moon has been going on for decades, with the discovery of the quasi-satellite Kamoʻoalewa (2016 HO3) in 2016. Like 2023 FW13, it also orbits the Sun in a similar orbit to Earth. However, calculations indicate that Kamoʻoalewa has been making its rounds as Earth’s “false moon” for just under a century.

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