New double crater on the moon after mysterious rocket impact

New images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the moon since 2009, have revealed the location of the unusual crater.

The impact created two craters that overlap, an eastern crater 18 meters in diameter and a western crater 16 meters wide. Together they form a depression that is about 28 meters wide in its longest dimension.

Although astronomers had anticipated the impact after discovering that the rocket portion was on course to collide with the moon, the double crater it created came as a surprise.

Typically, spent rockets have most of their mass at the motor end, as the rest of the rocket is mostly just an empty fuel tank. But the double crater suggests that this object had large masses on both ends when it hit the moon.

The exact origin of the rocket body, a piece of space junk that has been floating around for years, is unclear, so the double crater could help astronomers to identify it.

The moon lacks a protective atmosphere, so it’s riddled with craters, which form when objects like asteroids regularly hit the surface.

This was the first time a piece of space junk had accidentally hit the lunar surface that experts are aware of. But craters have formed because spacecraft have intentionally crashed into the moon.

The new crater is smaller than others and not visible in this view, but its location is indicated by the white arrow.

For example, four large lunar craters attributed to the Apollo 13, 14, 15, and 17 missions are all much larger than any of the overlapping craters formed during the March 4 impact. However, the maximum width of the The new double crater is similar to the Apollo craters.

origin unclear

It was Bill Gray, an independent orbital dynamics researcher and astronomical software developer first detect the trajectory of the rocket booster.

Gray originally identified it as the SpaceX Falcon rocket stage that launched the US Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR. in 2015, but later said he got it wrong and it likely came from a Chinese moon mission in 2014 — an assessment NASA concurred with.
However, China’s Foreign Ministry denied that the booster came from its Chang’e-5 lunar mission, saying that the Rocket burned up on re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
This is the space cemetery where the International Space Station will be buried

No agency systematically tracks space junk this far from Earth, and the confusion over the origin of the rocket stage has underscored the need for officials to monitor space junk more closely, rather than relying on the limited resources of private individuals and academics.

But experts say the bigger challenge is space debris in low-Earth orbit, an area where it can collide with functioning satellites, create more debris and threaten lives in manned spacecraft.

There are at least 26,000 pieces of space junk orbiting the earth that are the size of a softball or larger and could destroy a satellite on impact; over 500,000 objects the size of a marble – large enough to damage spacecraft or satellites; and over 100 million pieces the size of a grain of salt, tiny debris that could still puncture a spacesuit, according to a NASA report released last year.