Today’s Video of the Day from the National Science Foundation (NSF) describes the discovery of a second Earth Trojan. Earlier this year, an international team of astronomers confirmed that 2020 XL5 is the second Earth trojan asteroid, and is much larger than the first.
A Trojan is an asteroid that shares an orbit with a planet. These space rocks are difficult to find because they are small and dark.
While Earth only has two confirmed trojan asteroids, Jupiter has nearly 10,000. These asteroids have also been found for Venus, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune.
The experts analyzed images obtained by telescopes at NSF’s NOIRLab in Chile to map the new Earth Trojan’s orbit.
“XL5 is nearly three times the size of 20-10 TK7, the first confirmed Earth Trojan, and could provide extraordinary insight into the building blocks of our solar system,” reports NSF.
“Asteroids swoosh through the cosmos at phenomenal speeds. Yet, Earth trojan asteroids might someday become ideal bases to explore our solar system and mine for natural resources.”
Video Credit: NSF