Researchers are tracking an object that looks like it will be captured by earth’s gravity for a few months this winter and then safely return to the solar system. It may be a standard asteroid, but some astronomers say the path of the mysterious object suggests it could have been part of a rocket in the 1960s. < / P > < p > “I was very surprised,” Paul chodas, a scientist at NASA’s Center for near earth object research, told the associated press. Chodas, one of the world’s leading asteroid experts, has been searching for returning space debris for decades. < / P > < p > last month, researchers in Hawaii identified the object for the first time. They named it 2020 so and designated it as a near Earth Asteroid. < / P > < p > but for a typical asteroid, this object is a little strange. It’s moving relatively slowly, it’s on the same plane as the earth, and its orbit is almost around the sun, just like the earth. Chodas believes that all of these features are “danger signals,” which may indicate that the object was once launched from earth. < / P > < p > “this is exactly what the rocket stage separated from the lunar mission follows once it passes through the moon and escapes into orbit around the sun. An asteroid is unlikely to evolve into such an orbit, but it’s not impossible Chodas told CNN in September. < / P > < p > the object appears to be 26 feet long, about the size of the upper stage of a Centaur rocket. This, together with its path through the solar system, makes it a good match for the rocket booster that helped NASA launch the surveyor2 mission in 1966. The task itself is a failure. After the successful launch, one of the spacecraft’s thrusters failed, causing it to fall into the moon. The booster for launching the ill fated spacecraft goes all the way through the moon to the solar system. Once the object gets closer, researchers will be able to determine whether 2020 so is a booster, not a space rock. A booster like this is made of relatively light metal – it won’t move in space in the same way as dense rocks. < / P > < p > whatever the object is, it is expected to stay in earth orbit for a few months this winter and then continue on its way. Only a few of these temporarily captured objects have been observed, including one that hovered between 2006 and 2008, and another that hovered for about a year without being noticed before leaving in March 2020. Continue Reading865 optimization is different? These mobile phones should teach you a lesson!