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It Was Man Made
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JOO2E3 Space Mystery Solved

By James Donahue

When first observed by Arizona astronomer Bill Yeung in September, 2002, the mystery object J002E3 was thought to be an asteroid that was circling the Earth erratically. The object was pretty big, calculated to measure about 30 meters in width.

Yeung first reported it as a passing “near Earth” object. But within days he discovered that the thing was in a 50-day orbit around our planet. This caused a stir among fellow astronomers. A story by Roy Britt in Astronomy magazine suggested that J002E3 was a small moon or space rock captured by the Earth when it passed near our planet’s L 1 Lagrange point, a place in space where the gravity of the Earth and Sun cancel each other out. It was described as the first known case of an object being captured in this way by the Earth.

In our commentary at the time, we suggested that the object may be an alien space craft parked in orbit around the Earth. All-in-all it was an interesting object to study and think about.

While recently going through our old story files we came upon our original report about J002E3 and decided to Google it to see if there have been any new updates. There were. The mystery appears to have been solved.

In their research, astronomers at University of Arizona discovered that the electromagnetic spectrum of J002E3 is consistent with white titanium dioxide paint. This not only suggested that it was something man-made, but that it was put there by one of NASA’s Saturn V rockets.

By back tracking the object’s orbit, the Arizona team also calculated that it had been orbiting the Sun for 31 years and near Earth in 1971.

NASA kept accurate records of all of the large parts, including the booster rockets that sent its Apollo missions off to the Moon. But one booster on Apollo 12, identified as the S-JVB third stage, went missing. It is theorized that this large booster rocket passed the Moon in 1969, then returned to a semi-stable orbit around the Earth.

Even more interesting is that while astronomers were deep in their research, trying to figure out just what J002E3 really is, the object disappeared. It left Earth’s orbit in June, 2003. Some researchers believe it will be back to resume its crazy orbit around Earth again about 2032.