NASA discovered that a double crater was formed when an unknown rocket hit the Moon.
A rocket of unknown origin crashed into the Moon, leaving an unusual crater, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter recently revealed. Astronomers noted the rocket body heading toward the Moon late last year, and it finally hit Earth’s satellite on March 4, creating an unusual double-crater formation.
The double crater suggests the rocket body “At each end, large numbers,” according to a press release NASA published on Friday. It is composed of an 18-meter diameter eastern crater (19.5 meters) and a 16-meter diameter western crater (17.5 meters).
This crater was created by a unique rocket body impact on Moon that has not previously resulted in a double crater. Four Apollo SIV-B craters were larger than the recent impact in maximum width, ranging from 35 to 40 meters (about 38 yards), though the maximum width of the new crater – 29 meters (about 31.7 yards) was similar to that of the Apollo rockets.
NASA did not mention whose rocket its orbiter had spotted in the press release, though American astronomer Bill Gray suggested in February that it was a booster stage from China’s Chang’e 5-T1 lunar mission, launched in October 2014. Gray misidentified the rocket at first as being a SpaceX Falcon 9 stage.
The Chang’e-5 probe, which landed on the Moon in December 2020, gathered a number of rocks for testing back on Earth, revealing water molecules were present at rates of up to 180 parts per million in some parts of the satellite.
Russia and China have joined forces with NASA in the race for a Moon base.
Numerous countries have launched or planned Moon missions over the past few months. Dmitry Rogozin of Roscosmos announced last month that Russia had scheduled the Luna-25 Moon lander mission for September. The US, however, is targeting 2024 to launch its Artemis-manned Moon mission.
The Pentagon warned, however that Russia’s increasing cooperation with China in space is a threat to the US’ presumptive dominance. The US is competing with the two nations to build the first Moon base, with dreams of exploiting the potential mineral resources of Earth’s only satellite and potentially even building nuclear reactors on it.
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