A small object flew across the earth on May 21. Asteroid 2010 KQ is probably not an asteroid, but the top stage of a rocket. "The orbit of this object is very similar to that of the earth," says Paul Chodas of NASA. "An object cannot stay in this orbit for long."
Scientists observed the object with the Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii. What seems? The spectral properties of 'asteroid' 2010 KQ do not match other asteroids. In addition, the object is only a few meters in size.
2010 KQ was discovered on May 16 by astronomer Richard Kowalski of the Catalina Sky Survey. Five days later, the object approached the earth, although it did not come closer than the orbit of the moon. 2010 KQ is leaving Earth at this time and will return in 2036. "The chance is six percent that 2010 KQ will end up in the Earth's atmosphere within thirty years," says Chodas. "If this happens, then the object falls apart completely in the atmosphere." In other words, the object does not land on the ground.
NASA keeps a close eye on asteroids and comets that fly close to Earth. Scientists from the so-called Near-Earth Object Observations Program discover these objects and try to find out if they can ever collide with the earth.