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Space oddity: the mystery of 2013 QW1

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Space oddity: the mystery of 2013 QW1

19 September 2013 Last month, ESA’s near-Earth asteroid coordination centre triggered a series of European observations that confirmed an unknown object was, in fact, of human origin. The confirmation was the Centre’s second such success in recent months and demonstrates the effectiveness of the Agency's asteroid-monitoring activities.

On 23 August, a rather unusual object was spotted in the sky by the US PanSTARRS asteroid survey and provisionally named 2013 QW1.

The suspected near-Earth object (NEO) was moving in an Earth-centred orbit, leading astronomers to ask: was it natural or artificial?

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