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Thread: other than the moon, does the earth have any other natural satellites?

  1. #1
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    other than the moon, does the earth have any other natural satellites?

    Are there ANY chunks of rock/ice orbiting the earth? Could there be small ones - e.g. a few m in diameter?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    Are there ANY chunks of rock/ice orbiting the earth? Could there be small ones - e.g. a few m in diameter?
    Nothing that is usually known, although every so often, something is spotted, usually a temporary piece of rock. One was about 5 meters. Wikipedia has some info on [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other_moons_of_Earth] natural satellites /url] of Earth. It also includes some Quasi-satellites.

  3. #3
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    Funnily enough New Scientist had an article about this recently (you may need to be logged in to read it)

  4. #4
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    Of course it does. Any piece of rock that has managed to escape accretion to the moon yet remains in Earth orbit over 4 billion years. There must be some atoms doing this.

  5. #5
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    It is far, far more likely that any of these objects we would see now were recently captured - for a three body system there are very few orbits stable over that length of time. And then there is the Sun...

  6. #6
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    Assuming that the collision-with-a Mars-sized-object model of the creation of the Moon is correct, I'd have to assume that some near earth asteroids are debris from that event, especially the ones in solar orbits similar enough to our own that they can be captured. It will be interesting to see the isotope abundances of these things in the years and decades ahead to see which, if any, fit this model. Studying these quasimoons will be interesting.
    Forming opinions as we speak

  7. #7
    Clyde Tombaugh saw the Space Age coming and did a search for tiny terrestrial moons before there were confusing artificial objects, using a variety of track rates to get photographs sensitive to quite small objects at a variety of orbital altitudes. Alas, I can't find anywhere just how small an object he would have found.

    I just found that he also headed a search for lunar satellites during an eclipse, stating that there were no such down to 20 meters even for low albedo.

  8. #8
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    We track something like 10,000 peices of space junk, Nearly all of them with a large dimention of less than one meter. Many of them , the source is identified with reasonable confidence, but not the ones with dimentions of about one centimeter. Possibly 10% of the small ones are natural rather than artificial, and the percentage is likely higher in the nano meter range. I'm guessing. Neil

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