Image: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University/Reproduction
The Moon has been hit by rockets on several occasions. But so far, all impacts have been controlled — that is, the result of a botched landing or deliberately placed on a collision course with the satellite.
On March 4th, the Moon was targeted again. But this time he was accidentally pushed. For the first time, a piece of space junk crashed into the satellite, leaving a double crater on its surface.
The crash was not recorded, but NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) managed to capture images of the aftermath of the impact. Check out:
Two craters were formed on the Moon, one 18 meters in diameter and the other overlapping with 16 meters in diameter. The accident occurred near Hertzsprung Crater, on the far side of the Moon, as had been predicted by researchers.
In January, scientist Bill Gray even suggested that the object on a collision course with the satellite was the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, launched in 2015. Later analysis pointed to a remnant of the Chang’e 5 lunar mission. -T1, commanded by China in 2014.
The images should help scientists confirm the source of the debris. Generally, rockets have mass concentrated only at the end of the engine, which would lead to the formation of only one crater on the Moon. The double impact points to a rocket with mass concentrated at both ends. Such details should point to the culprit more easily.