#Solar System

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Earth's second moon

Earth's Second Moon, 3753 Cruithne

Everyone knows and loves the moon.  What you may not know is that it's not Earth's only natural satellite.  In 1997, another body was discovered, 3753 Cruithne, also called a quasi-orbital satellite of Earth.  This means that Cruithne doesn't orbit Earth in a nice ellipse the same way our moon does.  Instead, Cruithne scuttles around the inner solar system in what's called a horseshoe orbit.

The video illustrates what a horseshoe orbit looks like, specifically for Cruithne orbiting around Earth.  This is something not widely known, but this type of orbit is actually pretty common in our solar system.  Cruithne's orbit is so wide, that its sometimes goes into the neighborhood of Venus and Mars.  It orbits the sun about once a year, but it takes nearly 800 years to complete this messy ring shape around Earth's orbit.

Even though Cruithne could technically be considered Earth's second moon, there isn't too much information about what it's like on surface.  It's only approximately five kilometers across, the surface gravity is very weak.  Walking briskly is probably enough to send you strolling out into outer space.

Even though Cruithne is small, if it were to strike Earth, it would be an extinction-level event, similar to what is believed to have happened at the end of the Cretaceous period.  However, it's not going to hit us any time soon.  It's orbit is tilted out of the plane of the solar system, and astrophysicists have provided simulations confirming that it will not come anywhere near us anytime soon.
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Kepler-186f

NASA discovers Earth-sized planet that could be habitable

NASA has discovered an Earth-sized planet that could potentially be habitable.  Designated Kepler-186f and discovered about 500 light years away from home in the constellation Cygnus, this new planet is likely a rocky world and may be similar to Venus, Mars, and Earth.  The system is also home to four other planets, orbiting around a host star about half the size and mass of the sun.

Elisa Quintana of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute at NASA stated:

"This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone.
Finding such planets is a primary goal of the Kepler space telescope."


The institute stated:

"This discovery not only proves the existence of worlds that might be similar to our own, but will undoubtedly shape future investigations of exoplanets that could have terrestial surface environments."
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