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News briefs: September 11
Posted: Thu, Sep 12, 2002, 7:46 AM ET (1146 GMT)
  • A object recently discovered in a distant orbit around the Earth is most likely a discarded rocket stage, astronomers said Wednesday. The object, given the provisional designation J002E3, was discovered by an amateur astronomer on September 3 and soon found to be in orbit around the Earth at about twice the distance of the Moon. Detailed calculations now lead astronomers to believe that the object is not an asteroid but instead most likely the upper stage from the Saturn 5 that launched Apollo 12, recently recaptured into Earth orbit.
  • The number of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) with large moons has raised questions about how those moons formed. Astronomers have found moons around seven of the over 500 KBOs discovered to date; many of those moons are similar in size to the bodies they orbit. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute believes that this means either conventional models of moon formation don't apply to KBOs, or that the moons are considerably more reflective, and thus smaller in size, than expected.
  • Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin said Wednesday that he hit lunar landing disbeliever Bart Sibrel in self defense. Aldrin said that Sibrel lured him to the hotel under false pretenses, then physically blocked him from leaving. Police in Beverly Hills, California said that they are still investigating the incident and had not yet interviewed Aldrin.
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