Researchers are tracking an object that looks like it will be captured by gravity for a few months this winter and then safely return to the solar system. It may be a standard asteroid, but some astronomers say the path of the mysterious object suggests it could be part of a 1960s rocket. < / P > < p > “I’m very surprised by this,” Paul chodas, a scientist at NASA’s near earth object research center, told the associated press. Chodas is one of the world’s leading asteroid experts and has been searching for returned space debris for decades. Last month, researchers in Hawaii identified the object for the first time. They named it 2020 so and designated it as a near Earth Asteroid. < / P > < p > but for a typical asteroid, this object is a bit strange. It moves relatively slowly, it’s on the same plane as the earth, and its orbit is almost around the sun, just like the earth. According to chodas, all these features are “danger signals”, which may indicate that the object was once launched from the earth. < / P > < p > “this is exactly the orbit followed by the rocket stage separated from the lunar mission, once it passes through the moon and escapes into the orbit around the sun. An asteroid is unlikely to evolve into such an orbit, but it’s not impossible Chodas told CNN in September. < / P > < p > the object appears to be 26 feet long, about the size of the upper stage of the Centaur rocket. This, together with its path through the solar system, makes it a perfect match for the rocket booster that helped NASA launch the & quot; surveyor 2 & quot; mission in 1966. The task itself is a failure. After the successful launch, one of the thrusters on the spacecraft failed, causing it to fall into the moon. < / P > < p > the booster that launched the ill fated spacecraft all the way through the moon to the solar system. Once the object gets closer, researchers will be able to determine whether 2020 so is a booster, not a space rock. Boosters like this are made of relatively light metal – they don’t move in space in the same way that dense rocks do. < / P > < p > whatever the object is, it is expected to stay in earth orbit for a few months this winter and then continue on its way. Only a few of these temporarily captured objects (or, informally, minisatellites) have been observed, including one hovering between 2006 and 2008, and another hovering unnoticed for about a year before leaving in March 2020. Global Tech