Three Tonnes Of Space Junk Set To Smash Into The Moon At Nearly 10,000km/h Today
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The moon is set for a facelift today (March 4) as three tonnes of space junk set to crash at a blistering speed of 9,334 kilometres per hour.
The hurtling mass is actually a leftover rocket, initially thought to have once belonged Elon Musk's SpaceX program.
But experts now think it might have come from someone else.
The crash will also send moon dust and potentially rock flying into space.
Telescopes will not be able to see the new crater, so it could take months to confirm the size of the impact left on the face of the moon using satellite images.
Astronomer Bill Gray initially thought the space junk was the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
But he now believes the object set to smash into the moon is a Chang'e 5-T1 booster, which would belong to the third stage of a Chinese rocket that sent a test sample capsule to the Moon back in 2014.
Gray told The Associated Press that he now doesn't see how the item that's on track to hit the moon could be anything but the Chinese rocket.
"I've become a little bit more cautious of such matters, but I really just don't see any way it could be anything else," he said.
In February, Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin refuted the suggestion the item could have belonged to China.
"According to China’s monitoring, the upper stage of the Chang’e-5 mission rocket has fallen through the Earth’s atmosphere in a safe manner and burnt up completely," he said.
Gray revealed that space junk rarely makes impact with the moon, describing toay's celestial crash as the 'first unintentional case' that he is aware of.
The astronomer also tracked the orbit of the moon and the rogue space junk in order to ascertain when the discarded rocket would make impact.
"I keep track of a dozen or so objects in 'high', near-moon orbits, mostly so that the folks looking for asteroids will know where they are (and can ignore them; they're looking for rocks, not junk)," Gray said.
He also stated he had hoped the junk would make impact on the light side of the moon - so that the any leftover crater would be visible, instead of having to wait months for satellite imagery to reveal the aftermath.
All data and simulations have shown Gray his preferred collision is not possible, so the astronomer will have to wait and see like the rest of us.