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NASA expert identifies mysterious extraterrestrial object as old Centaur rocket booster

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Earth may get a new “mini-moon” soon.

But it’s probably just an old rocket booster from 1966.

The mysterious extraterrestrial object once called “asteroid 2020 SO” now appears to be an old rocket from a failed moon-landing mission 54 years ago, according to NASA’s leading asteroid expert Paul Chodas.

The “asteroid” was on track to get nabbed by Earth’s gravitational pull and become a small moon next month.

The formerly known asteroid may actually be the Centaur upper-rocket stage that successfully propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966. According to NASA, the lander ended up colliding into the moon after one of its thrusters failed to ignite.


Last month, this mysterious object was detected by a telescope in Hawaii, according to Space.com’s Meghan Bartels. The object is roughly estimated to be 26 feet based on its brightness—near the length of the old Centaur, which now would be less than its original 32 feet long, according to NASA.

“I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Chodas told the Associated Press’ Marcia Dunn. “It’s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I’ve been doing it for decades now.”

Observation will further help confirm the object’s identity.

NEW MISSION IN LIFE: Astronaut chooses his daughter’s wedding over going to space

The one thing that drew Chodas to debunking the theory that Earth has a new mini-moon was that the mysterious object’s orbit around the sun is similar to the Earth’s, which is unusual for an asteroid, according to Space.com.

“I suspect this newly discovered object 2020 SO to be an old rocket booster, because it is following an orbit about the sun that is extremely similar to Earth’s, nearly circular, in the same plane, and only slightly farther away from the sun at

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NASA expert identifies mystery object once thought an asteroid

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The jig may be up for an “asteroid” that’s expected to get nabbed by Earth’s gravity and become a mini moon next month. Instead of a cosmic rock, the newly discovered object appears to be an old rocket from a failed moon-landing mission 54 years ago that’s finally making its way back home, according to NASA’s leading asteroid expert. Observations should help nail its identity.

“I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Paul Chodas told The Associated Press. “It’s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I’ve been doing it for decades now.”

Chodas speculates that asteroid 2020 SO, as it is formally known, is actually the Centaur upper rocket stage that successfully propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded. The lander ended up crashing into the moon after one of its thrusters failed to ignite on the way there. The rocket, meanwhile, swept past the moon and into orbit around the sun as intended junk, never to be seen again — until perhaps now.

atlas-centaur-7.jpg
This September 20, 1966, photo provided by the San Diego Air and Space Museum shows an Atlas Centaur 7 rocket on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Convair/General Dynamics Astronautics Atlas Negative Collection/San Diego Air and Space Museum via AP


A telescope in Hawaii last month discovered the mystery object heading our way while doing a search intended to protect our planet from doomsday rocks. The object promptly was added to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center’s tally of asteroids and comets found in our solar system, just 5,000 shy of the 1 million mark.

The object is estimated to be roughly 26 feet based on its brightness. That’s in the ballpark of the old Centaur, which would be less

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Fake asteroid? NASA expert IDs mystery object as old rocket

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This Sept. 20, 1966 photo provided by the San Diego Air and Space Museum shows an Atlas Centaur 7 rocket on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA’s leading asteroid expert, Paul Chodas, speculates that asteroid 2020 SO, as it is formally known, is actually a Centaur upper rocket stage that propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded.

This Sept. 20, 1966 photo provided by the San Diego Air and Space Museum shows an Atlas Centaur 7 rocket on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA’s leading asteroid expert, Paul Chodas, speculates that asteroid 2020 SO, as it is formally known, is actually a Centaur upper rocket stage that propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded.

AP

The jig may be up for an “asteroid” that’s expected to get nabbed by Earth’s gravity and become a mini moon next month.

Instead of a cosmic rock, the newly discovered object appears to be an old rocket from a failed moon-landing mission 54 years ago that’s finally making its way back home, according to NASA’s leading asteroid expert. Observations should help nail its identity.

“I’m pretty jazzed about this,” Paul Chodas told The Associated Press. “It’s been a hobby of mine to find one of these and draw such a link, and I’ve been doing it for decades now.”

Chodas speculates that asteroid 2020 SO, as it is formally known, is actually the Centaur upper rocket stage that successfully propelled NASA’s Surveyor 2 lander to the moon in 1966 before it was discarded. The lander ended up crashing into the moon after one of its thrusters failed to ignite on the way there. The rocket, meanwhile, swept past the moon and into orbit around the sun as intended junk, never to be seen again — until perhaps now.

A telescope in Hawaii last month discovered the mystery object heading our way while doing a search intended to protect our planet from doomsday rocks. The object promptly was added to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center’s tally of asteroids and comets found in our solar system, just 5,000 shy of

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College football expert picks, predictions for Week 6, 2020: Kentucky covers against Mississippi State

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There are multiple games on the Week 6 college football schedule that should not only impact conference races, but also help shape the early-season College Football Playoff picture. The latest Week 6 college football odds from William Hill show top-ranked Clemson as a 14-point home favorite against No. 7 Miami (FL). No. 8 North Carolina is laying 4.5 points at home against No. 19 Virginia Tech.

No. 3 Georgia has a 12.5-point edge against No. 14 Tennessee in the 3:30 p.m. ET SEC on CBS matchup. Where are the best values for Week 6 college football bets in those marquee matchups and others around the nation? Before locking anything in for this weekend’s action, be sure to see the top Week 6 college football expert picks, predictions and best bets from Barrett Sallee.

Sallee is a true insider — a CBS Sports analyst, SiriusXM host, Heisman voter and consistently one of the top CBS Sports experts picking games against the spread — and his best bets have helped bring in huge returns. He debuted with SportsLine in 2017 and has delivered in a big way, posting a winning record in his weekly college football best bets column since that point. 

He went 59-35-2 (63 percent, plus $2,037) on all his college football picks for SportsLine in 2019, and he also enters Week 6 of the 2020 college football season on a 49-28 streak on his best bets since the start of last year. Anybody who has been following him is way up.

Now, he has turned his attention to the Week 6 college football odds from William Hill and is sharing his top three best bets over at SportsLine. Get his top college football picks now. 

Top Week 6 college football expert predictions

One of Sallee’s top college football picks

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Texas vs. TCU odds, line: 2020 college football picks, predictions from expert on 19-4 run

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The Texas Longhorns likely salvaged their hopes of a Big 12 title with an epic comeback against Texas Tech last week. Now, they will hope to avoid a letdown against persistent nemesis TCU on Saturday in Austin. Kickoff for Texas vs. TCU is set for noon ET. The No. 9 Longhorns are coming off a improbable 63-56 overtime road win against Texas Tech. They trailed by 15 with three minutes left before quarterback Sam Ehlinger rallied them for a pair of scores to force overtime.

The Horned Frogs were busy with a wild game of their own, but their rally came up short in a 37-34 home loss to Iowa State. The Longhorns are 11.5-point favorites and the over-under for total points scored is 62.5 in the latest Texas vs. TCU odds from William Hill. Before making any TCU vs. Texas picks, be sure to see the college football predictions from SportsLine’s Josh Nagel.

A Nevada-based handicapper with more than 20 years of experience in the sports wagering industry, Nagel specializes in college sports and has been a consistent winner for SportsLine members. Last year, he went 82-61-1 on his against-the-spread college football picks to give his followers a profit of nearly $2,000. He’s off to another string start in the 2020 season that includes a 6-1 run heading into Week 5.

What’s more, he has had a keen eye for the trajectories of both programs, posting a 19-4 record on spread picks involving either Texas or TCU over the past three seasons. Anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now, Nagel has set his sights on Texas vs. TCU. You can visit SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are the college football odds from William Hill and trends for TCU vs. Texas:

  • Texas vs. TCU spread: Texas