2009 BD is approximately 400,000 miles from Earth (NASA)

Strange Asteroid 2009 BD Stalks the Earth

25 Jan , 2009 by

[/caption]A 10 meter-wide asteroid named 2009 BD discovered earlier this month is making a slow pass of the Earth, coming within 400,000 miles (644,000 km) of our planet. The near-Earth asteroid (NEO) poses no threat to us, but it is an oddity worth studying. Astronomers believe the rock is a rare “co-orbital asteroid” which follows the orbit of the Earth, not receding more than 0.1 AU (15 million km) away. It is stalking us.

On looking at the NASA JPL Small-Body Database orbital plot, it is hard to distinguish between the orbital path of the Earth and 2009 BD, showing just how close the asteroid is shadowing the Earth on its journey around the Sun…

In 2006, NASA announced that Earth’s “second moon” was an asteroid called 2003 YN107 (with a diameter of about 20 meters) and it was about to leave the vicinity of Earth, leaving its “corkscrewing” orbit around our planet for seven years, only to return again in 60 years time. 2003 YN107 was of no threat (and wont be in the future), but it is interesting to study these bodies to understand how they interact with Earth. Having NEOs in stable orbits around the Earth could be of benefit to mankind in the future as missions can be planned, possibly sending mining missions to these rocky visitors so we can tap their resources.

The orbital path of 2009 BD (blue line) (JPL Small Body Database)

The orbital path of 2009 BD (blue line) (JPL Small Body Database)

So far, little is known about the new 10 meter asteroid in our near-Earth neighbourhood, but it provides us with an exciting opportunity to track its laborious orbit to see whether it will eventually be ejected after making a close pass to the Earth’s gravitational field (as was the case with 2003 YN107 in 2006). From preliminary observations, 2009 BD is projected to shadow our planet for many months (possibly years) to come. Until November 2010 at least, the asteroid will hang around the Earth, within a distance of 0.1 AU.

It is worth emphasising that 2009 BD is of no threat to the Earth, its closest approach takes it 644,000 km from us. For comparison, the Moon’s apogee is 400,000 km, so 2009 BD is stalking us from afar, beyond lunar orbit.

As time goes on, astronomers will be able to track 2009 BD’s orbit with more precision (for updates, keep an eye on the JPL Small-Body Database), but for now, we have a micro-second moon following the Earth on its orbit around the Sun…

Source: Space Weather


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LapsedPacifist
Member
January 25, 2009 4:39 PM

Why not try to nudge it into a stable orbit? It would be good practice (for the day when we may need to divert a dangerous one) and the asteroid might be a valuable resource.

Perhaps it could also be used as a counterweight for a future space elevator.

Polaris93
Member
January 25, 2009 11:42 PM

Watch it when it comes to talking about using one of these NEOs as a staging area or for mining — the Greens will have hysterics! wink

Polaris93
Member
January 25, 2009 11:43 PM

BTW — Max, the only two planets in the Solar System that have “cleared their orbits” are Mercury and Venus. Everybody else has one or more moons and, in some cases, huge flocks of itsy bitsy asteroids and comet debris in their gravitational clutches. So is everything except Venus and Mercury a “planetoid”?

kenn hammer
Guest
kenn hammer
January 25, 2009 5:14 PM

i anybody thinking alien satelite.

Jorge
Guest
January 25, 2009 5:24 PM

I understand where it comes from, but I must say I don’t like to see these asteroids being called moons. They aren’t. The major influence in their orbits is the Sun, and even if/when they come whithin Earth’s Hill Sphere, it’s always just a while. Yes, their orbit is influenced by our planet, but so is our orbit influenced by Jupiter, and nobody suggests that the Earth is a moon of Jupiter…

These are more or less co-orbital asteroids. Just that. Our closest neighbors beyond our only natural satellite and a whole fleet of artificial ones.

outcast
Member
outcast
January 25, 2009 6:07 PM

I’m just waiting for someone to come out and say “It’s Nibiru!!!!!!!!!”

Jorge
Guest
January 25, 2009 6:15 PM
Errata: I meant to write “it’s just for a while”. And perhaps I should add that this isn’t directed at Ian: the culprit of this trend seems to be NASA itself with the announcement of YN107. All sorts of crazy headlines about a second Earth moon followed, which I’m sure was ment to stir public interest, but probably ended up confusing it further. I, at least, had a frustrating conversation with my mother, who knows I’m into this stuff, and came all knowy to me one day saying “so, they found another moon, eh?”, and I said “er… no, mom, not really”, followed by an attempt to give her some hints of orbital dinamics. Not an easy task… Read more »
Conic
Guest
January 25, 2009 6:34 PM

Lets visit it already! A great constellation mission to practice for deep space work.

Maxwell
Member
Maxwell
January 25, 2009 7:48 PM

Actually it is overwhelming evidence that the earth has not properly cleared its orbital neighborhood of debris, and is therefore not a planet…

(2 down, 7 to go!)

Dominion
Member
January 25, 2009 8:10 PM

that was the first thing I thought too Max. maybe we inhabit an earthoid.

Schultz
Guest
Schultz
January 25, 2009 10:17 PM

Seems to be an interesting target for exploration…

AlekseyA
Member
AlekseyA
January 25, 2009 11:06 PM

Hey outcast…
It’s Nibiru razz
haha

Michel Duchaine
Guest
Michel Duchaine
January 26, 2009 6:29 AM

How many kilometers in diameter?

Glen
Guest
Glen
January 25, 2009 11:39 PM

OH MAN 2012

But seriously, that’s a very cool find. It would be nice to see some sort of exploration project involving a crash-landed satellite.

marcellus
Guest
marcellus
January 26, 2009 6:45 AM

It is a great opportunity for an unmanned, relatively inexpensive space probe to check out.

Save the constellation mission for Apophis.

Hans Bausewein
Guest
Hans Bausewein
January 26, 2009 12:49 AM

I hope the IAU has a better definition of “clearing their orbits”.

My guess is that the proportion of the remaining mass in the orbit to the mass of the planet must be small enough. Define “small”.

Paul Eaton-Jones
Member
January 26, 2009 1:51 AM

Why did you have to use the phrase ‘stalks the earth’? That’s bound to have the aluminium-foil hat brigade wading in with catastrophe theories.

jag
Guest
jag
January 26, 2009 2:21 AM

Um, lets go get it! it’d look great on my mantle aka the earth bwahaa.. but seriously, can’t we have like a redbull race to this thing?

Alex Cassell
Guest
Alex Cassell
January 26, 2009 10:14 AM

“The near-Earth asteroid (NEO)”

I think the ‘O’ stands for object…

msadesign
Member
msadesign
January 26, 2009 5:08 AM

Co-orbital? Hmm…where have I heard that…oh, yea! Remember when Pluto was de-planetized because it hadn’t cleared out its orbit?

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