Feeds

Approaching space object 'artificial, not asteroid' says NASA

Too small for a proper mothership at ~10m, though

New hybrid storage solutions

NASA boffins report that an unknown object approaching the Earth from deep space is almost certainly artificial in origin rather than being an asteroid.

NASA JPL graphic depicting the 2010 visit of object 2010 KQ.

Not actually an asteroid, according to NASA, but artificial.

Object 2010 KQ was detected by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona earlier this month, and subsequently tracked by NASA's asteroid-watching service, the Near-Earth Object Program headquartered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

According to the NASA experts:

Observations by astronomer S J Bus, using the NASA-sponsored Infrared Telescope Facility in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, indicate that 2010 KQ's spectral characteristics do not match any of the known asteroid types, and the object's absolute magnitude (28.9) suggests it is only a few meters in size.

The mysterious artificial object has apparently made a close pass by the Earth, coming in almost to the distance of the Moon's orbit, and is now headed away again into the interplanetary void. The object has used no propulsion during the time NASA has had it under observation. However the spacewatch boffins believe that it must have moved under its own power at some point, given its position and velocity.

"The orbit of this object is very similar to that of the Earth, and one would not expect a [naturally occurring] object to remain in this type of orbit for very long," said Paul Chodas, a brainbox at JPL.

The experts believe that the object must be a spacecraft, or more accurately part of one - sadly not an alien visitor, though. Rather it's likely to be a booster stage from an interplanetary mission of the past, now drifting back in to Earth and out again. The next visit will probably be 2036, at which time there's a small chance that 2010 KQ will crash into the atmosphere and burn up. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.