An EXTERNAL rocket the size of a school bus will crash into the Moon this week.
The impending collision has sparked a war over who is responsible – here’s what we know so far.
When does the rocket hit the Moon?
According to astronomers, a booster will hit the Moon’s surface on March 4 after spending nearly eight years in space.
This will be the first time an artificial object has crashed into another space body without aiming at it.
The collision will happen on the far side of the Moon when the one-ton mass of space junk is traveling at about 2.6 km/s.
It is expected to create a cloud of debris and leave a small crater, although no serious damage has occurred.
The explosion poses no threat to humans or other spacecraft.
The object may be part of a rocket that launched a small Chinese spacecraft, known as Chang’e 5-T1, towards the Moon in 2014.
Who predicted the collision?
In January, space watchers calculated that a man-made debris would of course hit the Moon.
It was first discovered by Bill Gray, who wrote the famous book Project Pluto software to track near-Earth objects.
He reported that the junk was an upper deck of a SpaceX Falcon 9 that was launched from Florida in February 2015.
It is on a mission to deploy an Earth observation satellite called DSCOVR for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
However, Bill later withdrew the claim and suggested that the missile part most likely belonged to China. China has since denied the allegation.
“Back in 2015, I (erroneously) identified this object as 2015-007B, the second stage of the DSCOVR spacecraft,” Gray wrote Feb.
“We now have solid evidence that it is indeed 2014-065B, Chang’e’s 5-T1 Moon mission booster.”
Do rockets belong to China?
The game’s blame for the rogue missile part ramped up last week after China said it was NOT theirs.
However, Gray still thinks it’s part of an old rocket from a moon mission dating back to 2014.
His claim has been supported by Nasa and other experts.
They believe it was from China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission, which was used to test technology that brought samples back to the Moon.
But China has not.
“According to China’s supervision, the upper stage of the Chang’e-5 mission rocket safely fell through the Earth’s atmosphere and was completely burned up,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. China said.
However, experts found that China was referring to the Chang’e-5 mission, not the similarly named Chang’e 5-T1 mission at its heart – both are completely different. .
So now astronomer Gray believes the country has taken on two “mixed” missions.
What the confusion suggests, he argues, is a need for better tracking of deep space junk.
“Many other spacecraft are entering high orbit and some of them will send crews to the Moon,” Gray said.
“Such rubbish would no longer be a nuisance to a small group of astronomers.
“A few fairly simple steps will help a bit.”
Has space junk hit the Moon before?
The rocket portion is still expected to hit the Moon on March 4, where it will leave a crater about 65 feet in diameter on the surface.
Unfortunately, a direct impact won’t be visible because the part of the rocket is expected to hit the far side of the Moon – the part facing away from Earth.
Instead, astronomers will rely on images taken by satellites including Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to see the aftermath of the crash.
By analyzing the resulting crater, scientists hope to be able to observe subsurface material ejected by the collision to shed light on the Moon’s composition.
As part of the LCROSS mission, in 2009 Nasa purposely smashed a booster into the Moon in hopes of learning something from the debris it left behind.
“In essence, this is a ‘free’ LCROSS … except we probably won’t see an impact,” Gray wrote in January.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8438574/mystery-rocket-denied-china-elon-musk-crash/ Mysterious rocket ‘will crash into Moon in THREE days’ as China denies it is the cause