ESA
Down In Front

ESA Satellite Accidentally Discovered Three New Asteroids

byDan Robitzski
5. 6. 19
ESA

Gaia was supposed to map the stars. It found something new instead.

Hello There

A European satellite called Gaia just made a new surprise discovery.

Originally charged with mapping out the positions and movements of the stars, according to Space.com, the space probe also happened to spot three previously-undiscovered asteroids that orbit the Sun at an unusual angle compared to the rest of the solar system.

Spotted

The asteroids, which are the first new asteroids to be discovered by Gaia, can be found more than 15 degrees off-axis compared to the rest of the planets, asteroids, and other space stuff that orbits our Sun.

“The population of such high-inclination asteroids is not as well studied as those with less tilted orbits, since most surveys tend to focus on the plane where the majority of asteroids reside,” reads a European Space Agency (ESA) press release about the discovery.

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New Target

ESA officials expect more similar discoveries out of Gaia, as its position in orbit gives it a better vantage than that of observatories on Earth when it comes to spotting asteroids out of the solar system’s typical orbit.

As it spots more of these unusual asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of our solar system, Gaia could reveal more secrets of how the asteroids, planets, and moons all came to be.

READ MORE: The Gaia Spacecraft Was Studying Stars, But It Found Something Else — 3 Asteroids [Space.com]

More on Gaia: Scientists Discover a “Ghost of a Galaxy” Orbiting the Milky Way

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