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This morning a piece of a Chinese missile fell on the surface of the moon

After years of zooming into deep space, the remnants of a purported Chinese rocket landed on the moon today, just as space-tracking experts predicted. at most should The moon hit around 7:30 a.m. ET this morning, provided the law of gravity remains unchanged. The collision ends the rocket’s life in space, potentially leaving a new crater on the moon that could be up to 65 feet wide.

The expired missile caused quite a stir last month. First of all, the plane was not intended to collide with the moon, which makes it a rare piece of space debris to be accidentally found on the moon’s surface. In addition, there has been some confusion as to its identity, as various groups have attempted to determine exactly where the missile came from.

Originally, space selectors thought it was Leftover piece of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket which launched a weather satellite in 2015. But after careful analysis, various groups of space trackers confirmed that the missile was. Possible remnants from the launch of the Chinese mission Chang’e 5-T1 A flight launched in 2014 to test the technology needed to return samples from the Moon. That mission, launched on a Chinese Long March 3C rocket, sent a spacecraft into lunar orbit in an effort to see if China could send a craft to the moon and then return it to Earth. Looking at Chang’e 5-T1’s flight profile and tracking the mysterious object, astronomers are pretty sure that part of the Long March 3C rocket has remained in an extremely long Earth orbit ever since, only to find its way around. side of the moon.

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China He tried to deny that the missile belonged to the country’s space program, claiming that the missile has already returned to our planet and fallen into the atmosphere. “According to China’s monitoring, the upper stage of the Chang’e-5 mission missile fell through the Earth’s atmosphere safely and completely burned up,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said. He said during a press conference In February, after locators changed the missile’s identity. However, Wang may have confused his duties in China. Chang’e-5 was a completely different mission launched in 2020, while astronomers believe that this rocket is derived from 5-T1 تغيير change The mission was completed six years ago.

Another confusion centered on whether the 18th Space Force Control Squadron (18SPCS) — which tracks space debris around Earth — had noticed on its tracking website that the Chang’e 5-T1 mission rocket had returned to our planet about a year after launch. Jonah. However, 18SPCS later confirmed in a statement a the edge March 3 is long from the trip I made not In fact, it has re-entered the atmosphere and has been in space since its launch.

China’s 3C long-range missile
Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Although the 18SPCS update lends credence to the idea that the missile came from the Chang’e 5-T1 mission, it won’t confirm with certainty that this is the object’s origin. He reads a statement sent by Major Mag. the edge. “Although the US Space Command can confirm that the CHANG’E 5-T1 rocket body has never left orbit, we cannot confirm the country of origin of the rocket body that could collide with the Moon.”

The reason 18SPCS doesn’t have good data here is because it doesn’t really care about tracking deep space debris like this. 18SPCS is focusing more on tracking space debris in orbits closer to Earth, as the space environment has become more crowded. This group of organisms has grown widely in recent decades, Especially after Russia deliberately destroyed one of its satellites During an anti-satellite test, or ASAT, in November. 18SPCS claimed that once the Chang’e 5-T1 missile passed more than 22,000 miles from Earth, their official pursuers were not prioritized after the object. They plan to revise the database, however, to reflect more current information.

But while 18SPCS can’t confirm or deny the source of the space debris, astronomers are fairly confident that the rocket came from Chang’e 5-T1. and the Now it is being smashed to the surface of the moon. It was the fall of the missile It was first predicted by Bill GrayIt is an astronomer and an asteroid identifier Project PlutoThat followed the missile closely in recent months.

The collision shouldn’t really be a cause for concern, especially since we’ve already bumped into a lot of objects on the Moon. Rocket pieces from the Apollo missions were sent to the moon on the lunar surface, and NASA crashed a lunar spacecraft in 2009 called LCROSS to blow up some lunar dirt and find out what material was hiding beneath the surface. Usually all past accidents were intentional and those that didn’t involve a lunar landing or a lunar vehicle traveling on a very bumpy road. This may be the first time a spacecraft that shouldn’t have made it to the surface of the Moon has gotten there anyway. Or at least, this is the first time we know anything about her.

Gray et al used this episode as a case Because we need better plans to get rid of deep space debris And why do we need to track waste that goes to very high altitudes like this. But now that the rocket has collided, its remains might be fascinating to study. The team behind the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is currently orbiting the moon, says they will try to see the effects of the crash if possible. Gray speculated that the rocket would likely hit the moon in a distant crater called Hertzsprung.

He emailed John Keeler, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission: “We definitely have an interest in finding the impact crater and will try to do so in the coming weeks and months.” the edge in the current situation. We will not be near the location of the crash when it occurs, so we will not be able to monitor it directly. The narrow-angle cameras on board are accurate enough to detect the crater, but the moon is full of recent impact craters, so positive identification depends on before and after images in similar lighting conditions.”

Hopefully the LRO team can find it and give us a picture of Long March 3C’s final resting place, and maybe we can use the whole ordeal as an opportunity to see what kind of material the impact was able to extract.

Queenie Bell

"Introvert. Avid gamer. Wannabe beer advocate. Subtly charming zombie junkie. Social media trailblazer. Web scholar."

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