NASA photographed the crash site of a mysterious rocket that crashed into the far side of the moon in March, and an unknown spacecraft left a strange double crater that stunned scientists.
Images of the crash site were taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) on May 25 and was released June 24. The pictures show that the debris (the origin of which is still controversial) crashed into the far side of two craters that came one after the other, piercing each other. ay moves at a speed of about 5,770 miles (9,290 km / h).
Unexpected binary craters add an extra layer of strangeness to the mystery that amazes space observers. since JanuaryBill Gray, a U.S. astronomer and software developer tracking near-Earth objects, predicted that a piece of space debris in orbit would hit the far side of the Moon in a matter of months, Live Science said earlier. When Gray first saw the wreckage, he suggested that it was the second phase of the Falcon X rocket launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company in 2015. However, subsequent observations and analysis of orbital data showed that the object was this object. China’s Chang’e 5-T1 missile has passed the upper stagespacecraft (China is named after the moon goddess) Released in 2014. However, Chinese officials disagreed, claiming that the top stage of the missile caught fire in 2014. Earth years ago atmosphere.
To date, at least 47 NASA rocket bodies have landed on the moon Arizona State Universitybut “the double crater was unexpected,” NASA said wrote in a statement. “The impact of any rocket body on the moon did not create double craters.”
Although scientists could not directly observe the moment of impact, experts predicted that the rocket phase would hit the lunar surface in the Hertzsprung crater on the far side of the moon at 7:25 a.m. (GMT 12:25) on March 4. LRO observations show two indentations on the lunar surface – the eastern crater is 59 feet (18 meters) wide and the western crater is 52.5 feet (16 m) wide. If NASA’s LRO had been deployed to take pictures of the impact, it could have documented a cloud of lunar dust erupting hundreds of miles high.
Scientists are still speculating about what the two craters created. One possibility is that the craters were formed from a piece of debris with two large masses at each end – although this scenario will be unusual, according to NASA.
“Typically, the mass of the spent rocket is concentrated at the tip of the engine; the rest of the rocket stage consists mainly of an empty fuel tank,” the statement said.
Is this really the amplifier of the Chang’e 5-T1?
Since the missile booster is likely to disintegrate completely during impact, it is unclear whether the study of the craters will give any major clues as to its controversial origin. However, some astronomers believe that they have already solved most of the mysteries. Gray wrote on his blog Shortly after the images were released, the object was “fully identified as a Chang’e 5-T1 amplifier.”
“I’m pretty sure nothing else can happen,” Gray told Live Science. “At this point, we rarely get something so precise.”
Gray said the controversial wreckage would collide with the Moon after his first prediction was discovered while orbiting in space in March 2015. The object (temporarily named WE0913A) was first seen by the Catalina Sky Survey, a series of telescopes near Tucson. Arizona is scanning our space neighborhood for dangerous asteroids that could hit Earth. However, WE0913A was not in orbit the sunwhom asteroid would be, but instead was in Earth orbit. Gray suspected that the object was man-made.
After initially misidentifying the mysterious trash can as a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Gray returned to the data and discovered that another spacecraft was close to the lunar debris trajectory: the upper phase of China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission, to the Moon and back in October 2014. was launched as part of an initial mission to send a test capsule.
Chinese Foreign Ministry officials have denied that the space debris belonged to them, insisting that the Chang’e 5 rocket had already caught fire when it returned to Earth in 2014. However, US experts objected to this claim, arguing that Chinese officials could confuse the 2014 missile. A rocket designated in the same way as the 2020 mission, and the first hit the moon. On March 1, the US Department of Defense’s Space Command monitors space debris in low Earth orbit. issued a statement He said China’s 2014 rocket never went out of orbit.
Gray believes that the orbital information, which perfectly corresponds to the initial trajectory of the Chinese rocket, is conclusive.
“It carries out many lunar missions in orbit; his tendency is that in the past he traveled over China; it was heading east in the same way as China’s lunar missions; and its estimated release time is 20. Minutes of the Chang’e 5-T1 rocket, “Gray said.
On the first 19 days of the flight, an amateur radio satellite (or “cubesat”) was attached to the Chang’e 5-T1, and the trajectory data sent from that satellite, according to Gray, perfectly matched the current trajectory of the rocket remnants. . Others have identified important clues that support Gray’s conclusion; The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for Near-Earth Object Research confirmed Gray’s analysis of orbital data, and the University of Arizona team analyzed the light spectrum reflected by the paint on the wreckage and determined that the rocket was part of the Chang’e 5-T1 mission. .
Although this is the first piece of space debris to inadvertently collide with the Moon, this is not the first man-made satellite crash there. In 2009, NASA’s Moon Crater Observation and Detection Satellite was deliberately launched to the Moon’s south pole at a speed of 5,600 miles per hour (9,000 km / h), leaving a plume that allowed scientists to detect chemical traces of ice water. NASA also destroyed the Apollo program by launching Saturn V rockets to the moon.
Gray said the confusion over the object’s identity underscored the need for better procedures to track rockets sent into space by space agencies and private companies everywhere (which would also prevent such objects from being mistaken for Earth-threatening asteroids).
“From my selfish point of view, this would help me better track asteroids,” Gray said. “The care for low-Earth satellites did not apply to high-Earth satellites because people thought it didn’t matter. I hope the United States now plans to return to the Moon and other countries. By sending goods there, that attitude can change.”
First published in Live Science.