Images Reveal Moon Rocket Collision Site That Created Two Huge Craters

Nasa captured images of a rocket impact site on the Moon that created two large craters on the surface.

The impact happened on March 4 and is the incident astronomers had revealed would happen after they spotted a rocket booster heading for the Moon.

Data analyst Bill Gray first discovered the booster late last year and initially identified it as a SpaceX rocket on his blog.

He later corrected his post to say it was a remnant of the Chinese Long March 3c rocket that launched the Chang’e 5-T1 lunar robotic spacecraft in 2014.

China denied ownership of the rocket, but NASA disagreed.

“The booster used to launch Chang’e 5-T1 entered a highly elliptical Earth orbit after launch,” NASA said on its website.

After NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed the collision site, the space agency only called the crashed object a “mystery rocket.”

It created two craters, an eastern crater with a diameter of 18 meters and a western crater which is 16 meters in diameter.

“The double crater was unexpected and may indicate that the rocket body had large masses at each end,” the US space agency said on its website June 24.

“Typically, a spent rocket has mass concentrated at the end of the engine; the rest of the rocket stage consists mostly of an empty fuel tank. The origin of the rocket body remaining uncertain, the dual nature of the crater may indicate its identity”.

“No other rocket body impacts on the Moon have created double craters.”

Nasa said the width of the two new craters combined was almost as large as that of the individual craters left behind by some of the Apollo missions.

Nasa in the late 1960s and early 1970s used to deliberately crash its Apollo Saturn rocket boosters into the lunar surface. This was so the space agency could create moonquakes for seismometers and study the impact.

The craters created on the lunar surface during some of the Apollo missions.  Photo: NASA

Updated: June 24, 2022, 2:51 p.m.

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Amanda J. Marsh