NASA has photographed the crash site of the mysterious rocket that hit the far side of the moon in March, and the unidentified spacecraft left a strange double crater in its wake, baffling scientists.
Images of the crash site were captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) on May 25 chest On June 24th. The images show that the stray wreck (the origin of which is still a matter of debate) somehow created two overlapping holes as it plunged to the other side the moon Traveling at 5,770 mph (9,290 km/h).
Unexpected double pits add an extra layer of weirdness to a puzzle that has stunned space watchers since January, when Bill Gray, an American astronomer and developer of software that tracks near-Earth objects, predicted that an orbiting piece of space junk would crash to the far side of the moon within months, Live Science previously reported. When Gray first spotted the wreckage, he suggested it was the second stage of the Falcon X rocket that launched Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2015. However, later observations and analysis of orbital data suggested the object was an object Spent the upper stage of the Chinese Chang’e 5-T1 rocketspaceship (Named after the Chinese moon goddess) which started in 2014. However, Chinese officials disagreed, claiming that the upper stage of that rocket burned out. Boden Joe years ago.
According to this, at least 47 NASA rocket bodies have crashed on the moon so far University of ArizonaBut the ‘double crater was unexpected’ NASA wrote in a statement. “No other rocket object on the moon has produced double craters.”
Although scientists could not directly observe the moment of impact, experts predicted that the discarded rocket stage on 4 MED GREENWICH TIME). Observations from the LRO show the lunar indentation – the eastern crater is 18 m wide and the western crater is 16 m wide. If NASA’s LRO had been positioned to capture images of the collision, it would likely have documented a plume of lunar dust hundreds of miles up.
Scientists are still hypothesizing what might have caused the two craters. NASA officials said one possibility is that the craters formed from a piece of debris that had two large masses at each end — although that scenario would be unusual.
“Typically, spent rocket mass is concentrated at the end of the engine, while the rest of the rocket stage consists mostly of an empty fuel tank,” the statement said.
Is it really the Chang’e 5-T1 Booster?
Because the launch vehicle is likely to disintegrate completely on impact, it’s uncertain whether an examination of the craters will provide significant clues as to their disputed source. However, some astronomers believe that most of the mystery has already been solved. Gray wrote on his blog Shortly after the images were released, the object was positively identified as a Chang’e 5-T1 Enhancer.
“I’m absolutely convinced there’s no way it could be anything else,” Gray told Live Science. “At this point, we rarely get anything this secure.”
Gray made his first prediction that controversial debris would collide with the moon after it was spotted plummeting into space in March 2015. The object (tentatively named WE0913A) was first illuminated by the Catalina Sky Survey, a group of telescopes near Tucson. Arizona scanning our cosmic neighborhood for dangerous asteroids that could collide with Earth. However, it wasn’t about WE0913A The sunSuch as Asteroid But it orbited the earth instead. Gray suspects that the body was man-made.
After Gray misidentified the mysterious debris as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Gray returned to the data and found that another spacecraft was near the debris path to the moon: the upper stage of the Chinese Chang’e 5-T1 -Mission launched in October 2014 as part of a first mission to send a test capsule to the moon and back.
Chinese Foreign Ministry officials have denied that the space junk belongs to them, insisting that the Chang’e-5 rocket was indeed burned on the return flight to Earth in 2014. The rocket with a similar one from the 2020 mission. This first hit the Moon. On March 1, the US Department of Defense Space Command, which tracks space debris in low Earth orbit, made a statement They say that the 2014 Chinese rocket did not leave orbit.
Gray believes its orbital data, which matches the Chinese rocket’s original trajectory almost perfectly, is conclusive.
“An enormous number of lunar missions are in orbit; its tilt means it has flown over China in the past; it has flown east, as do Chinese lunar missions; and its estimated launch time is within 20 minutes of the Chang’e 5-T1 rocket,” Gray said.
A ham radio satellite (or “Cubesat”) was linked to Chang’e 5-T1 during its first 19 days of flight, and the trajectory data sent by that satellite matched the current trajectory of the missile debris accurately, according to Gray. . Others have also identified important evidence supporting Gray’s conclusion; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Center for Near-Earth Object Studies has confirmed Gray’s analysis of the orbital data, and a team from the University of Arizona identified the rocket as part of the Chang’e 5-T1 mission by analyzing the spectrum of reflections from coatings Lichts analyzed on the shattered debris. .
Although this is the first piece of unwanted extraterrestrial space to accidentally crash onto the moon, it’s not the first time a man-made satellite has crashed there. In 2009, NASA’s Crater Monitoring and Sensing Satellite was intentionally launched into the moon’s south pole at 5,600 mph (9,000 km/h), releasing a plume that allowed scientists to detect chemical signatures of water ice. NASA also got rid of Apollo’s Saturn 5 rockets by blasting them to the moon.
Gray said the confusion surrounding the object’s identity highlights the real need for space agencies and private companies everywhere to develop better ways of tracking the rockets they send into space (which would also prevent such objects from confusing it with Earth-threatening asteroids ). . . .
“From my selfish point of view, it will help us track asteroids better,” Gray said. “The care given to the LEO satellites has not been applied to the LEO satellites because people have found that it doesn’t really matter. And I hope the United States is now considering going back to the moon, and other countries may also be sending things there to change. situation”.
Originally published on Live Science.