NASA has shared images of an unidentified spacecraft that crashed on the moon.
Snapshots taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show the impact left an unusual crater on the moon’s far side.
The images have sparked conspiracy theorists on social media, with some citing them as evidence of extraterrestrial activity.
However, there is a much simpler explanation – the dive was abandoned by a runaway missile.
Astronomers spotted the part of the rogue rocket late last year as it raced toward a lunar collision.
They believe the school bus-sized chunk of metal hit the surface of the rocky satellite in the early hours of March 4th.
The origins of the rocket part remain a mystery. It was first believed to belong to SpaceX but was later pinned to China’s space agency.
Nasa says images of the crash site – which produced a rare double impact crater – could help astronomers identify those responsible.
“The double crater was unexpected and could indicate that the rocket body had large masses at each end,” NASA said wrote on June 24th.
“Typically, the mass of a spent rocket is concentrated at the motor end; the rest of the rocket stage consists mostly of an empty fuel tank.
“As the origin of the rocket body remains uncertain, the dual nature of the crater could point to its identity.”
The lunar impact will have created a cloud of debris but not done any serious damage.
It was the first time a man-made object had fallen on the moon without pointing at it.
The double crater left behind is about 29 meters wide, according to NASA.
It consists of a chasm 18 meters wide overlapping another spanning about 16 meters.
Images of the site could prove crucial for scientists hoping to gain a better understanding of space collisions.
The origins of the rocket part remain a mystery for now.
In January, astronomer Bill Gray reported that the junk was a SpaceX Falcon 9 upper stage launched from Florida in February 2015.
It was on a mission to deploy an Earth observation satellite called DSCOVR for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
However, after receiving a tip from a Nasa scientist, he later retracted his claim, saying the rocket part most likely belonged to China.
“In 2015, I (mis)identified this object as 2015-007B, the second stage of the DSCOVR spacecraft,” said Gray, who developed the asteroid-tracking software Project Pluto, at the time.
“We now have good evidence that this is indeed 2014-065B, the booster for the Chang’e 5-T1 lunar mission.”
Chang’e 5-T1 was an experimental spacecraft that lifted off in October 2014 in preparation for the Chang’e 5 lunar mission.
The mission was part of China’s Lunar Exploration Program, which would eventually make it the third nation to land on the moon, after the United States and the Soviet Union.
But China had none of it, claiming a few days later that the mission’s upper stage had burned up safely in Earth’s atmosphere.
“According to Chinese monitoring, the upper stage of the Chang’e-5 mission rocket safely fell through Earth’s atmosphere and was completely burned up,” said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.
However, experts noted that China pointed to the 2020 Chang’e-5 mission, rather than the Chang’e 5-T1 mission of the same name, as the focus of the allegations. They are completely different.
In March, Gray’s theory was confirmed by the US Space Command, which tracks near-Earth objects after its astronomers confirmed that the upper stage of the Chang’e 5-T1 mission was not deorbited.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9019620/nasa-image-crashed-ufo-moon-conspiracy-theorists/ NASA image of a “UFO” crashed on the moon has conspiracy theorists in a frenzy