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New "moon" likely space junk
Posted: Wed, Sep 18, 2002, 6:21 PM ET (2221 GMT)
Astronomers have found evidence that a newly-discovered object in a distant orbit around the Earth is most likely a spent upper stage or other spacecraft and not an asteroid. University of Arizona astronomers said Tuesday that observations of the object, designated J002E3, showed it had colors consistent with white titanium oxide paint, the paint used on the third stage of the Saturn 5 rocket. Infrared spectra of the object taken by MIT astronomers confirmed that the titanium oxide detection. The finding supports earlier conclusions, based on the orbit of the object, that it was most likely the third stage from the Saturn 5 that launched Apollo 12 in 1969.
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