10:36 AM PT -- It's confirmed -- the unknown mass that sped by our planet early Tuesday morning was not an asteroid, proof of alien life or anything else extraordinary ... it's just a Centaur rocket booster from Surveyor 2's doomed mission to the moon in 1966.
NASA scientists were able to definitely prove what they already thought by comparing spectral data from another Centaur booster to 2020 SO ... and found they were consistent.
Great work, everyone!
There's a mysterious object hurtling toward Earth right now that will whiz past us early Tuesday morning, and in perfect 2020 fashion ... nobody's sure what the heck it is.
The unknown space mass has been dubbed "2020 SO," and is set to fly by our planet at an extremely close, but safe, distance of 31,605 miles at 3:50 AM ET December 1.
The object was discovered by the Pan-STARRS survey in Hawaii back in September, and initially, it was believed to be an asteroid measuring an estimated 15-33 feet across.
However, scientists at NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) soon began to postulate it wasn't an asteroid or even a "natural body" at all.
Instead, CNEOS director Paul Chodas is on record saying he believes the object is the Centaur rocket booster from NASA's failed Surveyor 2 lunar mission ... which launched way back on September 20, 1966.
Chodas used a bunch of computer science and math to track 2020 SO's orbit backward to come to the conclusion ... that it likely launched from Earth.
Of course, scientists will be able to more closely observe the object as it approaches to determine exactly what it is ... and here's to hoping it's more exciting than a hunk of space junk.