The rocket part, which is expected to crash on the moon on March 4, does not come from Elon Musk’s Space-X program. Now researchers have found it. Instead, it is said to be a propulsion stage for the Chinese launch vehicle.
At the end of January, American astronomer Bill Gray announced that the stage of the thrust rocket would hit the Moon. The part is a type of fuel tank that the rocket ejects during its flight.
Software developed by Gray can be used to track small asteroids, planets and space debris close to Earth. So Gray also noticed the notable piece of space junk that would soon hit the Moon. The astronomer first noticed the piece of debris on his program in 2015 — incorrectly as part of Space-X’s Falcon 9 rocket.
Gray wrote on his blog: “I had relatively good circumstantial evidence for this definition, but none. This is not unusual in the field. Identification of space debris flying at high altitude often requires some investigative work. Sometimes we are not even able to Matching a scrap part.” Looking back, however, he should have noticed some inconsistencies in the part’s path.
On February 12, 2022, Gray received an email from NASA engineer John Giorgini of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Among other things, the tracks of Space-X missiles are monitored there. Giorgini noted that the Falcon 9 rocket’s trajectory was very far from the Moon. Junk that will crash on the moon can’t come from an Elon Musk rocket.
Gray revised his calculations again and found that the debris must have been from a rocket launched before 2015. Gray: “Plus, they had to go in a high orbit that led them beyond the Moon.” But: only a few missiles take such a trajectory. Accordingly, the culprit can be quickly identified.
Gray now believes the scrap is a burning stage for China’s Long March launch vehicle. The rocket was launched as a lunar probe on October 23, 2014 in China and headed toward the moon. The probe flies once around the moon and then back to Earth. Test return of a missile to Earth’s atmosphere.
The special feature: The thrust phase, dropped on this path, initially flies in a wide arc around the Moon – but can hit it again years later. According to original calculations, this piece of garbage will hit the moon at an astonishing 2.58 kilometers per second. This is about 9300 km / h. There it will make a small dent on the moon’s surface – but it won’t cause more damage.
Scientifically, the impact even has a good thing: the observation satellites must be pointed precisely at the impact site. Space researchers hope to gain insight into the layers of material beneath the moon’s surface.
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