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Current Affairs

Kamo’oalewa

Date: 17 November 2021 Tags: Space

Issue

A study in journal Communications Earth and Environment has tried to assess the origin of Kamo’oalewa satellite.

 

Background

Kamo’oalewa was discovered in 2006 by the PanSTARRS telescope in Hawaii. It was named after a Hawaiian chant that means an offspring that travels on its own.

 

Details

  • Kamo’oalewa is a quasi-satellite that is near-Earth object that orbits Sun and yet remains very close to Earth.

  • The asteroid is the size of a Ferris wheel and comes as close as about 9 million miles from Earth. It is between 150 and 190 feet in diameter.

  • The satellite could not be properly studied due to its small size (about 50 metres wide). This was the reason very little was known about it.

 

The origin study

  • One study says that Kamo’oalewa was part of Moon but was separated from it due to a possible impact. Instead of Earth, it started revolving around Sun.

  • Scientists studied the spectrum of its material with that of lunar sample brought during Apollo 14 mission, finding striking similarities.

  • In 2025, a mission is slated for a launch to bring back samples from Kamo’oalewa. This will help in clear identification of the source.

 

Other origin theory

  • Another theory says that Kamo’oalewa was captured by Earth from a population of Near-earth objects, which later started revolving around Sun.

  • Another unverified theory says that it originated from an as-yet-undiscovered quasi-stable population of Earth’s Trojan asteroids.

 

PanSTARRS telescope

  • It stands for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System. It is located at Haleakala Observatory, Hawaii, US.

  • The main objective of PanSTARRS is to survey sky to look for undiscovered comets, asteroids, stars, supernovae etc. Majority of funding was provided by US Air Force.