A rocket hurtling through space for years crashed into the Moon on Friday, according to orbital calculations. But the strike wasn’t directly observed. There might be a wait for photographic evidence.
The impact would have taken place at 7:25 am Eastern Time. It had taken place on the far side of the Moon. Bill Gray was the astronomer who predicted the collision.
Racing through the cosmos at around 5,800 mph, the roughly four-ton object should make a crater “10 or 20 meters across”.
Its speed, trajectory, and time of impact were calculated by Earth-based telescope observations.
The identification of the rocket has been a subject of debate. As there is no official entity responsible for listing and tracking junk in deep space.
Astronomer Bill Gray is an independent contractor who has created orbital calculation software used by NASA. HE hunts for human-made debris. So, scientists do not confuse it for asteroids and study it unnecessarily.
Gray initially thought what he was seeing was a SpaceX rocket. But later he said it was a third-stage booster of Chang’e 5-T1. It was launched in 2014 as part of the Chinese space agency’s lunar exploration program.
Beijing denied responsibility by saying the booster in question had safely entered the Earth’s atmosphere.
Gray said the statement by China’s foreign ministry conflated two missions with similar names. It was actually talking about a rocket launched much later.
Only NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and India’s Chandrayaan-2 both of which orbit the Moon. They will be able to image the crater.
The US space agency said it wanted to survey the crater. But they said finding it would be a challenge.
Gray said, both probes are able to observe any region on the Moon once a month.
It’s not unusual for rocket stages to be abandoned to the cosmos. Even after serving their purpose of launching spacecraft.
But this is the first time an unintentional collision with the Moon has been projected.
Spacecraft have been intentionally crashed into the Moon before for scientific purposes. This includes Apollo missions to test seismometers.