Remember that rocket that was expected to impact the Moon in early March? It was first thought to part of a SpaceX Falcon 9, but later worked out to be the upper stage of a Chinese rocket launched in 2014. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin denied this saying the rocket had burned up on re-entry.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) snapped images of the resultright where astronomers estimated it would be earlier this year. It marks the first time a piece of space junk is known to have hit the lunar surface.
The rocket body hit the Moon on March 4, 2022, near Hertzsprung crater, creating a double crater about 90 feet long, about the size of a single crater left behind by the third stage of the Saturn V rocket during the Apollo program.
But each of those S-IVB impacts created a single not-quite-round crater. It’s not certain why a pair of craters were created by this mystery rocket.
Normally, spent rockets are very bottom heavy, with a massive motor at one one end and and empty fuel tank on the other, creating a single crater. The overlapping craters suggest large masses at each end.
“Since the origin of the rocket body remains uncertain, the double nature of the crater may help to indicate its identity.” said Mark Robinsonthe principal investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC).