Astronomers noticed a new formation on the surface of our satellite in 2022. It’s not every day that they see a new crater, especially a double one. The publication explaining this phenomenon states that this is the first observation of this type.
What hit the Moon?
In short: garbage. You could say that the scientists played this trick on themselves.
The double crater was investigated by specialists from the University of Arizona. Formation of the formation managed to connect (PDF) with space junk. In March 2022, a fragment was observed heading towards the Moon.
Whose garbage was this? It’s almost certain that it’s Chinese. There are many indications that A fragment of the Long March 3C rocket hit the Moon, which carried the Chang’e 5-T1 test probe in 2014. There are also a few opinions that this was it fragment of the Falcon 9 rocket. It’s hard to say for sure because space agencies don’t monitor their debris beyond a certain distance from Earth.
It is certain that the Moon was hit by two objects of similar mass, flying almost perpendicular to the satellite’s surface. Scientists believe one of them is the upper part of the Long March 3C rocket. The rocket must have had some kind of payload that detached and fell nearby. It was certainly not a small thing – the report mentions masses measured in hundreds of kilograms.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied this. Oddly enough, Wang Wenbin, who represents them, spoke about a different mission. He noted that the Long March 5 rocket, which carried the Chang’e 5 probe in 2020, burned up in the atmosphere. It is difficult to say whether there was a misunderstanding or whether the diplomat was deliberately avoiding the topic.
The authors of the article explaining the formation of the craters emphasize that it is necessary to expand the monitoring of space debris. There will be more and more lunar missions. You need to know what’s going that way and what might happen when it gets there.