Scientists estimate that part of an abandoned rocket crashed into the moon’s invisible face on Friday at 12:25 GMT. BBC.
The three-ton rocket has been under observation for years, but its origin has caused much controversy.
Astronomers initially thought the fragment may have been detached from a rocket launched by billionaire Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX.
Consequences of the collapse of the moon
BBC experts say the rocket’s impact on the moon almost created a small crater and dust cloud on the moon’s surface. Scientists hope to confirm the impact in the coming days or weeks.
The fragment was first observed from Earth in March 2015. The object was discovered by the administrator of a NASA-funded space observation program based in the US state of Arizona, but quickly lost interest when it realized it was not an asteroid.
That rocket phase is called “space debris” – instruments left in space by missions or satellites that do not have the fuel or energy needed to return to Earth.
Some of these objects are hovering above the earth, but others, like that rocket stage, are in high orbit, thousands of kilometers away from the Earth’s atmosphere.
36,500 “space debris”
The European Space Agency (ESA) estimates that there are currently 36,500 “space debris” over 10 cm in diameter floating around the Earth.
Space programs or universities do not officially monitor space debris. Space observation is a costly operation, and the risk to humans from these orbiting objects is low.
In these cases, the observational work is done by very few volunteer astronomers, who spend their free time calculating and calculating orbits. They send e-mails and alerts to the scientific community, asking people in the best observation areas on Earth to analyze a particular object in space.
Six weeks after the spacecraft’s first sighting, 63-year-old Peter Birtowis was scanning the sky for asteroids in his garden in Newbury, southern England.
His telescope captured a small bright spot across the sky. Calculations indicate that it is part of a space rocket, he told BBC News.
Space debris enters and exits space observation areas in an unpredictable manner. For seven years, the British astronomer never saw that piece of space again – until January, when it reappeared.
“As I passed closer to the earth I got a few pictures“, He explained.
The photos were sent by Peter Girtwiss, an astronomer and scientist named Bill Gray, who lives on the east coast of the United States. He is an expert who has identified the spacecraft to the moon as the propeller of the rocket.
News of the abandoned wreckage of a space rocket built by billionaire Elon Musk’s company to land on the moon in March 2022 appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world.
But observing space debris is often “detective work,” Bill Gray explained. The symbol of the rocket cannot be seen – astronomers need to observe its routes through space and guess its identity step by step. They then compare the orbit of the space debris between the dates and locations of the rocket launches and their orbits.
But some space missions, including those in China, do not advertise the routes of their vehicles.
“For a Chinese mission, we know the launch date, because it is television. So I guess he’s going to the moon – usually in four or five days. Then I calculate an approximate orbit“, A clear Bill Gray.
Sometimes the American astronomer admits that he makes mistakes. A few weeks after the launch of the SpaceX rocket, another amateur astronomer sent a new data to Bill Gray, revealing that such an “identification” was impossible.
Bill Gray again made the necessary calculations and concluded that the space debris was the third floor of the Chinese rocket that participated in the monthly Chang’e 5-T1 mission launched in October 2014.
However, China has denied allegations that the roofs of its rockets re-entered the atmosphere and burned in contact with the air.
But Bill Gray still supports his prediction. He believes Chinese experts have confused the trajectory of fragments from two different missiles. “I’m 99.9% sure it’s a Chinese 5-T1 missile,” he said.
In fact, we will never know.
Hugh Lewis, a professor at the University of Southampton, said the scientific value of observing space debris was limited. However, the British professor continued, “It’s important to” follow what’s out there, especially in a situation where human habitation is more likely in space.
“This is the ‘mess’ we have created. Things we believe are safe can actually return to Earth unexpectedly,” he added.
Evidence of celestial impact will not be available until two moons orbiting the Moon pass through the impact zone and take photos of the crater resulting from the collision.
As the propeller shattered into thousands of pieces after the impact, most of the physical evidence of its original origin would be lost. In these circumstances, the best assumptions made by Bill Gray and the voluntary astronomers about the sky.
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