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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Trojan asteroid detected in the Earth's orbit

Unraveling of the wonders in outer space continues with the latest discovery of an asteroid that is expected to keep company with earth, for several hundred years.

A team of Canadian scientists have discovered a "Trojan" asteroid that is caught in a synchronized orbit with the Earth.

Trojans are asteroids that share an orbit with a planet, locked in stable orbits by a gravitational balancing act between a planet and the Sun. Neptune, Mars and Jupiter are known to have Trojans.

Two of Saturn’s moons share orbits with Trojans. Scientists had predicted Earth should also have Trojans, but they have been difficult to find because the Trojans are relatively small and appear near the sun from Earth’s point of view.

This diminutive asteroid has a diameter of just 300 metres but is called a Trojan because of its particular position in a stable spot — either in front of a planet or behind it. Because the asteroid and planet are constantly on the same orbit, they can never collide.

Currently, it is about 50 million miles away, and should come no closer than about 18 million miles.

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