Alice GormanAssociate Professor of Archeology and Space Studies, Flinders University
In a few weeks, a rocket launched in 2015 is expected to crash into the moon. The fast-moving piece of space junk is the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, pulled Deep space climate observatory our alien satellite. Since then, it has been circling the Earth and Moon in a chaotic manner.
Asteroid hunter Bill Gray has watched on board the 4-ton gainer since it launched. This month, he realized his orbital tracking software The booster is expected to hit the lunar surface on March 4traveling at a speed of more than 9,000 kilometers per hour.
The turbocharger is wobbling violently as it travels, which adds some uncertainty about the timing and location of the predicted impact. It’s likely to happen on the far side of the moon, so it won’t be visible from Earth.
For those asking: yes, an old Falcon 9 stage two left in high orbit in 2015 will hit the moon on March 4. That’s interesting, but not a big deal.January 25, 2022
Some astronomers say the collision “wasn’t a big deal”, but for a space archaeologist like me it’s quite interesting. It will be the moon’s newest archaeological site, along with more than 100 other sites documenting human activity on the moon and in the past. cislunar space.
The history of the moon landing crash
The collision will leave a new crater on the dark side of the moon.
The first man-made artifact to make contact with the moon was the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 in 1959 – an extraordinary feat, just two years after launch. Sputnik 1Earth’s first artificial satellite.
The mission consisted of a rocket, a probe and three “bombs”. A person releases a cloud of sodium gas so the crash can be seen from Earth. The Soviets did not want the breakout mission to be called a hoax.
The other two “bombs” are pentagonal medallion spheres with dates and Soviet symbols. If they explode as planned, they will scatter 144 medals across the surface of the Moon.
Other accidents were done wrong, like Israel Beresheet lander in 2019. This is particularly controversial because the lander carries a secret cargo of dried tardigrades, tiny creatures that can revive in the presence of water.
Various spacecraft have spontaneously decayed and fallen out of orbit, such as the Japanese relay satellite Okina in 2009. Several others were intentionally crashed at the end of their missions.
NASA’s Ebb and Flow spacecraft was intentionally dropped to the Moon’s south pole in 2012, specifically to avoid any risk of damaging the Apollo landing sites. Impacting at a speed of 6,000km an hour, they left a crater 6 meters wide.
Many collisions have been used to collect seismic data. The observations from the controlled impact of Saturn’s third-stage boosters and the ascent module from the Apollo missions are particularly valuable, as the duration, location and energy of the impact are known. arrive.
The Falcon 9 . rocket The stage is significantly larger than the tiny Ebb and Flow spacecraft and is moving faster. The impact will create a much larger crater, which will form clumps of rock and dust. In this airless world, dust can move smoothly before settling.
The only other spacecraft on the far side of the moon are the US Ranger 4 probe, which crashed in 1962, and China’s. Landing lander Chang’e 4 and lander Yutu 2. Yutu-2 is still moving along the lunar surface on its six wheels.
Yutu’s latest results show that “earth” is in the distance could be more sticky than the near side, and has a higher density of small craters.
The rocket stage can cause damage to these historic spacecraft, if it lands on or near them. However, this is statistically unlikely. Current predictions suggest that it landed in the Hertzsprung crater, a long way from the Aitken basin where the Chinese spacecraft is operating.
Although there was no camera to observe the accident, at some point NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter capable of passing and visual impact point.
We’ll learn something about the geology of the site from the difference in color and distribution of ejected material. This is your chance to learn more about the mysterious far reaches of the moon.
Changing attitudes towards space junk
In the preceding Space Age, little thought was given to leaving what many call “garbage” on the surface of the Moon.
The moon is sometimes considered a “dead” world because it is devoid of life. The Commission on Space Research’s Planetary Protection Policy (COSPAR) does not require any special precautions for activities on the Moon.
But there is growing awareness that the moon has its own distinct environmental values. The Declaration of the Rights of the Moonwas created by an independent group of researchers, claiming that the moon has “the right to exist, to exist and to continue its vital cycles without alteration, harm, and pollution.” infected by humans.”
Canadian researchers Eytan Tepper and Christopher Whitehead have suggested that the moon may be protected by give it legal statuslike the Whanganui River in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The moon is hit by meteors all the time. In many ways, the Falcon 9 impact will be just another collision. What makes it so interesting is how it works as an experiment to change public opinion about our responsibility for the space environment.
So a case of billionaires littering the Moon… https://t.co/7ZqPhtgmL5January 26, 2022
The public is seeking accountability from space agencies and private corporations. As plans to mine and inhabit the moon pick up speed, hopefully that’s a message ready to be heard.
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https://www.space.com/rogue-rockets-crashed-into-moon A rogue rocket would of course crash into the moon. It won’t be the first time.