The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has discovered that Earth has an asteroid companion traveling just ahead of our planet as it orbits the sun. It will reportedly remain tied to our planet for at least ten thousand years.

The new-found asteroid, called 2010 TK7, is nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and currently leading the Earth by about 50 million miles (80 million kilometers).

The asteroid is the first in a category known as Earth’s Trojans, a family of space rocks that could potentially be easier to reach than the moon, even though its member asteroids can be dozens of times more distant, researchers said. Such asteroids, which have long been suspected but not confirmed until now, could one day be valuable destinations for missions, especially loaded as they might be with elements rare on Earth’s surface, they added.

This so-called Trojan asteroid could serve as a stepping stone to celestial objects farther afield.

“If we can find similar things for Earth, then they would be pretty low-energy targets to get to, and that would be an interesting opportunity to have,” said Martin Connors, an astronomer at Athabasca University in Canada and one of the co-discoverers of the object.

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