Earth’s Extra Moons May Hold Keys To Our Past, Scientists Say


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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A slew of scientists believe that Earth’s extra moons, known as “minimoons,” may hold the keys to understanding our past, LiveScience wrote in a Sunday analysis.

The first “minimoons” around Earth were spotted back in 2006 by the NASA-supported Catalina Sky Survey. These celestial bodies are only a few meters in diameter and often hang around in Earth’s orbit for a little while before floating off into the rest of the cosmos. Some scientists believe we can use these space rocks to aid in interplanetary travel, but they may also hold the key to unlocking our ancient past, various scientists told LiveScience.

“[Minimoons] probably have had a bit of a pinball experience in the inner solar system, being ricocheted around and tugged on by the different planets,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) planetary sciences professor Richard Binzel told the outlet. “They finally found themselves in a way that they got tugged into a somewhat circular orbit near the Earth.”

In Oct. 2023, researchers discovered that the 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid Bennu held water and carbon, two of the major requirements for life (as we know it) to form. Could it be that the origins of life on Earth actually came from a space rock, like a “minimoon,” as it was swept into our orbit?

NASA small body exploration chief scientist Paul Abell said “minimoons” and asteroids like Bennu are “like time capsules” because “[t]hey give us indications of what the early solar system was like [and] what the conditions were.” Another asteroid, Ryugu, revealed stardust older than our solar system, along with different amino acids that are often used to build proteins t0 form things like muscles and hair, according to Live Science. (RELATED: NASA Claims Its Identified A Strange Object That Defies The Laws Of Physics)

Collecting samples from “minimoons” will likely help further this search for the origins of life on Earth. But until we know where these “minimoons” come from and where they’ve been, there’s no way to know for sure where life comes from in the rest of the universe.