The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth and the closest to the Sun, since Venus and Mercury do not have such. However, earlier our planet had other satellites.
Writes about it Live Science.
In the recent past, researchers have learned that in fact the Moon is not alone in this regard. It turns out that in the past and even now there are many more satellites revolving around the Earth than many people think.
According to scientists, our planet’s gravity often captures near-Earth asteroids and dust clouds, which turn into temporary satellites of our planet. Therefore, the statement that the Moon is the only satellite of the Earth is not entirely correct, but the number of these satellites has changed over time. And once the Earth did not have a satellite at all.
It is generally accepted that at the very initial stage of its existence, approximately 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth did not have a natural satellite at all. Approximately 4.4 billion years ago, a protoplanet the size of Mars crashed into our planet and, as a result of the impact, huge pieces of the Earth flew into space. It was from them that the Moon formed very quickly.
For a long period of time, namely one and a half years from the moment of discovery, the first long-term observable natural satellite, the asteroid 2006 RH120, circled the Earth. This stone was discovered in 2006 and is only 6 meters wide. Also from 2017 to 2020, the second satellite of the Earth was the asteroid 2020 CD3, 3.5 meters wide.
For almost a year, an object called SO 2020 circled the Earth, which flew further into space in early 2021. If initially scientists mistook it for an asteroid, then later it turned out that it was a fragment of a space rocket.
A similar situation arose even earlier, in 2015, when astronomers discovered a new satellite of the Earth and considered it as such for 13 hours. Subsequent observations revealed that it was in fact the Gaia space telescope.
According to astronomers, sometimes temporary satellites appeared near the Earth, which were captured by the planet’s gravity. But they didn’t circle around her for long before they flew further into space.