An object the size of a school bus, which has been in orbit in space at around 5,600 miles per hour since 2014, crashed into the Moon on March 4, 2022. The 40-foot-long, 3,000-kilogram piece of space debris is believed to have carved a massive – 60 to 100 feet wide – hole near Hertzsprung crater on the far side of the Moon. However, since the exact impact the location is unknown, it may take a few months for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify and image the new crater.
American astronomer Bill Gray first alert the world about the arrival of the object appointment with the Moon in January 2022. The scientist initially believed that it was the upper stage – the detachable rocket segment that helps propel the cargo further into space – from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. However, further research has proven that the booster – which transported a National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) satellite in deep space in February 2015 – is in orbit the sun.
The expert now thinks that wandering the object may be remnants of the Chinese Chang’e 5-T1 mission, which was spear on the Moon in October 2014. But Chinese officials say their rocket’s upper stage burned out a few years ago after re-entering Earth atmosphere.
Regardless origin, the recent crash demonstrates danger space debris could pose to future lunar explorers. Alice Gorman, space archaeologist at Flinders University, says: “At some point in the future, an event like this will not just be a curious thing to observe from the outside. orbit or on the surface of the Moon worry.”
While WE0913A is the first known accidental lunar collision, it may not be the first. Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics thinks many more are gone not detected due to lack of tracking data. The expert said National geographic“We know that some fraction of them probably crashed into the moon and escaped us, another fraction was nudged in orbits around the sun, and a third fraction are still in their evolving orbits or have burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere.”
Resources: Natgeo.com, NPR.com, Livescience.com