The day before the remains of the rocket hit the moon, the mystery remains – whose space junk is expected on the dark side of the moon
The world is waiting with uncertainty for tomorrow when part of an old rocket sent into space many years ago is expected to hit the moon. We remind you the world media recently published information according which it is a part of the Falcon 9 rocket of the Space X company, sent into space in 2015.
However, new calculations of the trajectory of the American Space Agency (NASA) soon arrived, they claim it is not a rocket of an American company, but more likely a part of a Chinese rocket from the Changde 5-T1 mission sent into space in 2014. The mission was a precursor and preparation for the Changde 5 mission when a sample from the lunar soil was brought to Earth in December 2020.
Even a day before the fall, it was not even clear whether it was a part of a Chinese rocket because China rejected the claims it was its rocket, the website Picuki Blog reported. China suffers a lot of criticism that a large amount of space junk remains in space after its missions, and claims it strictly monitors the debris emerging after rocket launches.
In support of the Chinese claims, there is also information from the US 18th Space Control Squadron, according to which the remains of a Chinese rocket entered the Earth’s atmosphere in 2015, so it has no chance of hitting the moon.
Astronomer Bill Gray, who was the first to publish on his blog the information that the SpaceX rocket will hit the moon, and later, in cooperation with NASA, came up with new calculations about the Chinese rocket, said that claim is not reliable because radar data can only track parts of the rocket moving near the Earth.
The impact will not be visible from Earth
The impact will occur in the distant, that is, the dark part of the Moon, and it will not be visible from Earth because that part of our satellite is never visible to the naked eye. Therefore, NASA hopes that its Lunar Orbiter, orbiting the Moon, will be able to photograph the impact site, but only after it happens.
In a statement to the Space website, NASA pointed out that after the impact, its team will assess whether there has been any change on the surface of the moon and then identify a new crater.
The US space agency points out this is a unique opportunity for new research because, after the impact of the rest of the rocket, or the space junk, the cameras will be able to record the impact site and later compare it with the images taken before the impact.
The part of the rocket is expected to weigh about three tons and after the impact, a crater the size of several tractor trailers will be created, AP reports.
Dust that crosses hundreds of kilometers
The impact will occur at a speed of about 9,300 kilometers per hour, but it will take weeks and maybe months to get satellite images and confirmation about it.
Regardless of whose garbage it is, scientists expect after the impact, a crater measuring 10 by 20 meters will be created, while the dust will rise from the surface and will fly hundreds of kilometers across the barren surface of the moon.
The moon is full of craters, and given the fact that it has no atmosphere, it is powerless against meteor and asteroid impacts.
As a reminder, Bill Gray, astronomer, and creator of Project Pluto, an asteroid tracking software, originally identified the stray space junk as part of the Falcon 9 rocket and predicted its parts would collide with the moon after seven years of flight.
The first calculation was wrong
However, as Live Science writes, he saw that his calculation was wrong. Gray claims it is part of a Chinese rocket from the Changde 5-T1 mission launched into space in October 2014.
“Analyses conducted by NASA indicate the object expected to hit the moon on March 4 is most likely part of a Chinese rocket from the Changde 5-T1 mission launched in 2014,” the statement said, adding that it is not part of the Falcon 9 rocket as previously announced.
John Giorgini, an engineer working for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, alerted Gray to the error on February 12. According to data from the database of the American Space Agency, which monitors the predicted orbits of hundreds of thousands of objects moving through the solar system, it has come to the conclusion that according to the predicted trajectory, part of the Falcon 9 rocket will not pass near the Moon, so it is unlikely that any part of it will hit.
China’s Lunar Lander is on the far side of the Moon but is too far away to record the impact. NASA’s Lunar Orbiter is also out of range, while India’s Chandrayaan 2 orbiter is unlikely to capture the moment of impact.