June 16, 2016 Pasadena, California - Yesterday NASA/JPL's Near Earth Object Program (NEOP) announced a new discovery of a steady companion of Earth's for at least a century that keeps a persistent distance of 9 million miles as it constantly orbits Earth. NASA calls it 2016 HO3 and gives its size as between 120 and 300 feet (40-100 meters) in diameter.
Without explaining why one companion asteroid disappeared and this “new one” has been close to Earth for a century without advanced NASA technologies picking it up before now, Paul Chodas, Manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Objects (NEO) at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, reports: “Since asteroid 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth. One other asteroid — 2003 YN107 — followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over 10 years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity. This new asteroid is much more locked onto us. Our calculations indicate 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for almost a century, and it will continue to follow this pattern as Earth's companion for centuries to come.”
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