Falling meteor fireball spotted in the sky over the Australian desert is actually a tiny MOON

Falling meteor fireball noticed within the sky over the Australian desert is definitely a tiny MOON that misplaced its place in orbit, scientists declare

  • The fireball ‘minimoon’ meteor was first noticed over Australia in August 2016 
  • Researchers from Curtin College studied its trajectory to point out it was in orbit
  • NASA say there may be doubtless not less than one massive asteroid in orbit at any given time 

By Ryan Morrison For Mailonline

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A fireball noticed burning up within the Australian sky was truly a tiny moon that had misplaced its place in orbit, scientists declare.

Often known as a minimoon, these objects are regarded as area rocks which were captured by Earth’s gravity, however just for a short while. 

The fireball was first noticed by Australia’s Desert Fireball Community in August 2016 and on the time astronomers thought it was a traditional meteor. 

Researchers finding out its trajectory say the fireball, referred to as DN160822_03, truly circled the Earth earlier than dropping orbit, making it a minimoon.  

The DN160822_03 fireball – pictured – was noticed flying over the Australian sky in 2016 however it wasn’t confirmed as a minimoon till 2019

Researchers from Curtin College in Australia used information from cameras monitoring meteors as a part of the Australia’s Desert Fireball Community to identify the situation of the minimoon and monitor its trajectory throughout the sky

Just one different minimoon has ever been noticed with a telescope and it orbited the Earth for 11 months earlier than flying off into area. 

In 2006, the College of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey found a minimoon in regards to the measurement of a automobile. Often known as 2006 RH120, it orbited Earth for lower than a 12 months after its discovery, then resumed orbiting the Solar. 

Our Moon, as walked on by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and others from the Apollo missions, is 2,000-miles in diameter and has orbited the Earth for 4billion years.

In distinction a minimoon is regarded as a number of ft throughout and solely orbits the planet for lower than a 12 months earlier than resuming its life as an asteroid or falling to Earth as a meteor fireball. 

NASA says there may be prone to be not less than one massive asteroid in orbit across the Earth at any given time (artist impression)


An asteroid is a big chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early photo voltaic system. Most are situated between Mars and Jupiter within the Fundamental Belt.

A comet is a rock coated in ice, methane and different compounds. Their orbits take them a lot additional out of the photo voltaic system.

A meteor is what astronomers name a flash of sunshine within the environment when particles burns up.

This particles itself is called a meteoroid. Most are so small they’re vapourised within the environment.

If any of this meteoroid makes it to Earth, it’s referred to as a meteorite.

Researchers from Curtin College in Australia say these objects are a crucially necessary sub-population of near-Earth objects.

They are saying it is necessary they’re studied as they’re near Earth so make the simplest targets for future sample-return, redirection, or asteroid mining missions. 

‘This was a particularly gradual fireball that had an preliminary velocity of round 6.8miles per second’, the researchers stated in a paper revealed within the Astronomical Journal.

‘It was detected by six of the high-resolution digital fireball observatories situated within the South Australian area of the Desert Fireball Community.’

NASA says that at any given time there must be not less than one asteroid with a diameter of not less than three ft orbiting the Earth in addition to many smaller objects.

Sightings of minimoon fireballs are extraordinarily uncommon although. That is solely the second time one has been noticed, the primary was seen by cameras in Europe in 2014.  

There could possibly be 1000’s of minimoons orbiting the Earth. They’re one sub-group of Close to Earth Objects that researchers say will make good candidates for asteroid missions on account of their proximity to Earth (artist impression)

Minimoons have been noticed elsewhere within the photo voltaic system. Jupiter is especially good at attracting them on account of its bigger gravitational pull.

Researchers say they count on extra meteor fireballs might be confirmed as minimoons within the subsequent few years as curiosity within the subject grows.

Additionally they say that improved remark methods will make it simpler to identify the distinction between a traditional meteor and one which has been in orbit.

The findings of the research had been revealed within the Astronomical Journal. 


Researchers have found many of the asteroids which might be a couple of kilometers in measurement, however at the moment are on the hunt for these which might be about 140m – as they may trigger catastrophic injury.

Though no person is aware of when the subsequent large impression will happen, scientists have discovered themselves below stress to foretell – and intercept – its arrival.

Artist’s impression pictured 

‘Eventually we’ll get… a minor or main impression,’ stated Rolf Densing, who heads the European Area Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, forward of Worldwide Asteroid Day on Friday.

It might not occur in our lifetime, he stated, however ‘the chance that Earth will get hit in a devastating occasion at some point may be very excessive.’

For now, there may be little we are able to do.

And but, the first-ever mission to crash a probe right into a small area rock to change its trajectory suffered a significant setback when European ministers declined in December to fund a part of the venture.

‘We aren’t able to defend ourselves’ in opposition to an Earth-bound object, stated Densing. ‘We’ve got no lively planetary protection measures.’

Supply: AFP 


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