Mars asteroid 101429: Or the moon’s long-lost twin brother

According tomedia reports, the Trojan asteroid has the same orbit as some planets, either in front of or behind the planets. Jupiter is famous for its many Trojan asteroids, but mars actually has some. One of our Mars companions — asteroid (101429) 1998 VF31 — may be a stand-in for our moon.

Mars asteroid 101429: Or the moon's long-lost twin brother

In a new study, a team led by researchers at the Ammar Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) in Northern Ireland took a closer look at the composition of asteroid 101429 and linked it to our lunar neighbors.

Planetary scientists used the X-shooter spectrometer at the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile to observe how sunlight reflects from the asteroid’s surface. They analyzed the data and compared them with other known objects.

Earlier observations of the asteroid led the team to believe it might have similar ingredients to a common meteorite. The asteroid follows Mars in the same orbit. “To their surprise, they found that it was not other small objects that matched the spectrum of the closest objects to us, but our immediate neighbor, the moon,” Apostolos Christou, the study’s lead author, said in a statement Tuesday. “

So what’s the origin story of this asteroid? The researchers suggest several possibilities. It may be similar to ordinary meteorites, but it just wears out over time. It could also be a big chunk of the moon. Christou said it entered the orbit of Mars, which may still be forming, when the moon was hit by a large asteroid and was trapped in its Trojan cloud. A third view is that the asteroid was knocked off Mars through a similar impact scenario. Christou describes the concept as “perhaps more likely”.