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Vehicle crashed on the Moon: provenance of the rocket, mysterious cargo… scientists’ conclusions after months of investigation

A strange crash hit the far side of the Moon on March 4, causing a double crater which raised many questions among scientists. A publication has just proven who the debris belongs to.

The impact was intriguing at the time. A double crater was noticed on the far side of the Moon in March 2022 after a rocket crashed.

At the time, the provenance of the rocket was not identified. “Before the impact, the identity of the lunar impactor was subject to debate, with two possibilities: the Falcon 9 from the DSCOVR mission or the Long March 3C from the Chang’e 5-T1 mission.” Moreover, the machine was nicknamed “WE0913A” since its origin was unknown.

A double crater appeared on the Moon in March, created probably by the impact of a rocket stage, but neither NASA, ESA, Roscosmos or China Space Agency admitted the propiety of that rocket… incredible!

NASA’s LRO images GIF via @coreyspowell pic.twitter.com/mG4KoEDOSG

— Xavi Bros (@Xavi_Bros) July 1, 2022

Debris identified

It is now done. American researchers from the University of Arizona have made their conclusions on the origin of the rocket and they affirm that it is indeed the Chinese Long March 3C rocket launched in 2014 as part of the Chang’ mission. e 5-T1. And not the rocket owned by SpaceX. The results were published on November 16 in Planetary Science Journal.

Identification possible thanks to trajectory calculations, but also spectral and photometric analysis.

An enigmatic additional charge causing two craters after impact

A new study shows how a team at the University of Arizona’s Space4 Center tracked down a contested piece of space junk that crashed onto the moon and provides an explanation for why it left not one but two craters. https://t.co/p5cSXJDHaX

— University of Arizona (@uarizona) November 16, 2023

Still according to the researchers’ conclusions, the results show that this rocket had additional mass.

“The double crater supports the hypothesis that there was additional mass at the forward end of the rocket body, opposite the engines, greater than the published mass of the permanently attached secondary payload,” explain the scientists.

“As for the additional payload of the Chang’e 5 T1 rocket, there is a good chance that its identity will remain a mystery,” said Tanner Campbell, one of the authors of the publication in a statement.

Before adding: “Obviously we have no idea what that might have been – maybe additional support structure, or additional instruments, or something else.”

And to conclude: “We will probably never know.”

Gn Fr tech

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