from NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)the US space probe sent to explore the Moon, launched in June 2009, flew over the impact site of a rocket that crashed into the far side of Earth’s only natural satellite in March.
In the region, the LRO found a 60-foot (18-meter) hole, superimposed on another 52-foot (16-meter) hole. The presence of this double crater took astronomers by surprise. The origin of the rocket that hit the moon in March is still unknown. According to Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the LRO Orbiter Core Team, one explanation is that the rocket that slammed into the lunar surface had a large amount of mass distributed unevenly throughout its body.
“Usually a spent rocket has mass concentrated at the engine end; the rest of the rocket stage consists mostly of an empty fuel tank. This double crater suggests the existence of a large amount of mass at both ends [of the rocket] when it hit the Moon,” Robinson said. NASA sources have stated that “no other rocket body impacts on the Moon” have created a double crater on previous occasions.
Robinson also noted that the four craters caused by the crushing of the Apollo SIV-B (the third stage of Saturn V) in the moon, “had a somewhat irregular outline”. Third stages of Apollo 13, 14, 15, 17 were crashed on the Moon to perform seismic measurements. “The maximum width (29 meters) of the double crater of the mysterious rocket body was close to that of the S-IVB.”
Since arriving in orbit around the Moon in 2009, the RLO has compiled a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of the Moon, as NASA said in its official statement.
However, the RLO data was unable to resolve the controversy over the origin of the rocket that hit the moon.
China denies the rocket was launched by them
Initial suspicions were that SpaceX was responsible for the rocket that struck the moon in question, specifically the upper stage of a Falcon 9 rocket launched by Elon Musk’s company to put the Deep Space Climate satellite into orbit. However NASA has verified that the orbit of the rocket that crashed on the lunar surface does not coincide with that of SpaceX.
Different analyzes conducted in the United States point to China as the source of the rocket. “It’s more like the orbit of the upper stage of the rocket that launched China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission in 2014,” said Bill Grayan astronomer who rules Pluto program for Project, tracking distant spatial objects. However, China denies that it is their rocket. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said:China’s watchdog says upper stage of mission-related rocket has entered Earth’s atmosphere and burned completely.