Saturn was dethroned by Jupiter in February 2023, sparking an unexpected Moon race that saw the ringed planet recover its throne earlier this month.
We wouldn’t compete in the moon race, but Earthlings have won all Miss World competitions. We know why—we just have one lousy Moon.
…or so we thought.
Astronomers found 2023 FW13, an asteroid. The object has fascinated asteroid watchers despite being merely 10-15 meters wide, around the size of a five-story structure.
The asteroid is called a quasi-satellite or quasi-moon because its peculiar orbit occasionally circles Earth.
Earth has failed several quasi-satellite partnerships with other space objects. Like current dating applications, most of its suitors are unstable and disappear after a few years or decades.
2023 FW13 may be unique. The most stable quasi-satellite on Earth, this seemingly devoted rock has been with us since at least 100 BC and will stay with us until at least 3700.
The asteroid loves the Sun, not us.
2023 FW12 orbits the Sun and loops around Earth in a 1:1 resonance, according to astronomers. Alan Harris of Space Science Institute estimates three such asteroids are now chasing Earth, although they will be difficult to locate.
But everything—love interests and asteroids—changes. We can only prepare, learn, and go on.
FW13 doesn’t disappoint either. It is unlikely to hit us, but it might enable future space travel.
The rock is a good “stepping stone” to Mars due to its orbital similarity. The low-gravity 2023 FW13 is perfect for deep-space practice before committing.