From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Surveyor-2
Mains level : Not Much
NASA has confirmed that the Near-Earth Object called 2020 SO is the rocket booster that helped lift the space agency’s Surveyor spacecraft toward the Moon in 1966.
Try this PYQ:
Consider the following phenomena:
- Size of the sun at dusk
- Colour of the sun at dawn
- Moon being visible at dawn
- Twinkle of stars in the sky
- Polestar being visible in the sky
Which of the above are optical illusions?
(a) 1, 2 and 3
(b) 3, 4 and 5
(c) 1, 2 and 4
(d) 2, 3 and 5
What is Surveyor-2?
- The Surveyor-2 spacecraft was supposed to make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface in September 1966, during which time one of the three thrusters failed to ignite.
- As a result of this the spacecraft started spinning and crashed on the surface.
- The aim of the mission was to reconnoiter the lunar surface ahead of the Apollo missions that led to the first lunar landing in 1969.
- While the spacecraft crashed into the Moon’s surface, the rocket booster disappeared into an unknown orbit around the Sun.
How was the object determined to be the rocket booster?
- Astronomers track asteroids using telescope to determine if there are potentially hazardous asteroids that pose a threat to the planet.
- Therefore, it is also important for them to be able to distinguish between natural and artificial objects that orbit around the Sun.
- The rocket booster has come “somewhat close” to the Earth in the past few decades.
- One approach to the Earth in late 1966 was so close that the object was thought to have originated from Earth.
- In September, the NASA-funded telescope detected it.