Subscribe to CNN’s Wonder Theory newsletter. Explore the universe with news of amazing discoveries, scientific advances and more.
A part of a rocket that has been in space for years is scheduled to hit the moon on Friday, and it will be The first time a piece of trash accidentally hits the moon’s surface.
It is expected to hit the moon around 7:26 a.m. ET at a speed of about 5,500 mph (8,851 kph), but the event will not be visible from Earth because The impact is expected to occur on the far side of the moon.
“If it were observable – which it won’t, unfortunately – you’ll see big flashes, dust, bits of decaying rockets, pebbles and boulders thrown in, some for hundreds of kilometres,” said Bill Gray. Independent researcher focusing on orbital dynamics and astronomical software developer. It was The first to discover the trajectory of the booster missile.
the only way Find out exactly where the missile fell through the pictures. The agency said that NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter would not be in a position to monitor the impact as it occurs.
However, the orbiter mission team assessing whether the Observations can be made about any changes to the lunar environment associated with the impact and subsequently determined what crater the impact formed.
“This unique event presents an exciting research opportunity,” NASA said in an emailed statement.
“After the impact, the mission could use its cameras to locate the impact, and compare old photos with photos taken after the impact. Finding the impact crater will be difficult and could take weeks to months.”
India’s Chandrayaan 2 orbiter may also be able to locate the impact crater, which can be up to 65 feet (20 meters) in diameter, Gray said.
It will be far from the only crater on the Moon, which does not have a protective atmosphere. This means that impact craters occur naturally when they collide with objects such as asteroids – and this is the case regular occurrence. The craters were also caused by a spacecraft deliberately crashing into the Moon.
There is the potential for biocontamination at the crash site, because parts of the rocket are not sterile when launched, said David Rotheery, professor of planetary geosciences at the Open University in the UK.
“Most of the microbes will die but maybe not all of them. They probably won’t reproduce but it’s a very small risk.”
The source of the missile part is unclear. Gray initially identified it as SpaceX Falcon rocket stage that launched the US Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, In 2015 but later He said he got it wrong It was most likely from a 2014 Chinese lunar mission – an assessment approved by NASA.
However, China The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied The booster from the Chang’e-5 mission was the moon, saying that The missile in question burned up upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
There are no agencies systematically tracking space debris so far from Earth, and confusion about the origin of the rocket’s stage has emphasized the need for official agencies to closely monitor waste in deep space, rather than relying on the limited resources of individuals and academics.
However, experts say the biggest challenge is space debris in low Earth orbit, an area where it can collide with working satellites, create more unwanted waste and threaten human life aboard manned spacecraft.
There are at least 26,000 pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth the size of a softball or larger and could destroy a satellite on impact; Over 500,000 marble-sized pieces – big enough to damage spacecraft or satellites; And more than 100 million pieces the size of a grain of salt, tiny debris that can puncture a spacesuit, according to a NASA report released last year.
“Hipster-friendly troublemaker. Communicator. Organizer. Devoted web lover. Unapologetic problem solver. Reader. Explorer. Travel guru.”
Scientists experiment with an actual tractor beam to clean up space junk
Special Ax-2 astronauts reflect on the recent International Space Station mission
The first X-ray of a single atom was captured