- The asteroid 2002 VE68 takes the same time as Venus to orbit the sun once.
- The near-Earth asteroid dives as deep as Mercury's orbit and scoots through our planet's neighborhood.
- 2002 VE68's orbit is on shaky ground and will probably leave Venus alone again within 500 years.
Astronomers have been busy trying to determine the spin period and composition of Venus' moon. On Dec. 8, 2010, results of the study were announced by JPL/Caltech scientists, led by Michael Hicks.
Wait a minute; back up, I hear you ask. Venus has a Moon? Of course it does. Well, kind of... Let me explain.
It has the rather unfortunate name of 2002 VE68. That's because it was discovered on Nov. 11, 2002 by LONEOS, the Lowell Observatory Near Earth Object Search.
2002 VE68 is an Earth orbit-crossing asteroid that has been designated a Potential Hazardous Asteroid by the Minor Planet Center. For obvious reasons, this makes it a very interesting subject of study for JPL scientists.
2002 VE68 used to be a run of the mill, potential impact threat Near Earth Object (NEO). But approximately 7,000 years ago it had a close encounter with Earth that kicked it into a new orbit.