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New Asteroid Discovery
New Asteroid Discovery
19 Feb 2003
(Source: NEO Task Force)

The Internatinal Astronomical Union announces the discovery of the first confirmed asteroid whose orbit is entirely inside of Earth's orbit. Asteroid 2003 CP20 orbits in the area between Mercury and Earth, and its aphelion distance (its furthest distance from the Sun), is 0.978 AU, or inside of Earth's orbit.

You can view its orbit here:

I should point out that this is first confirmed case of an asteroid with this type of orbit. In 1998. astronomers at the University of Hawaii found a similar object, 1998 DK36. It was only observed over a few nights, and then lost. Preliminary calculations of its orbit indicated was inside of Earth's orbit, but additional followups were needed to confirm this. The asteroid was never recovered.

Ron Baalke

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Last Updated: 25 Feb 2003