SpaceX will reach the moon a little more than a month from now, much earlier than expected.
But it all happens by accident, and it will cause a bit of a mess.
SpaceX, a rocket company launched by Elon Musk, has been selected by NASA to provide a spaceship that will take its astronauts back to the lunar surface. It’s still years away.
Instead, based on recent observations and calculations by amateur astronomers, it is a four-ton upper phase of the SpaceX rocket, launched seven years ago, to land on the moon on March 4.
The epicenter was reported at 7:25 a.m. Eastern time, and there was still some uncertainty about the exact time and location, but Bill Root, developer of the Pluto astronomical software suite project, said the rocket would not miss the moon. Used to calculate the orbits of asteroids and comets.
“It is quite certain that it is going to be hit, and when it was predicted it would hit in a few minutes and maybe a few kilometers,” he said. Gray said.
Since the beginning of the space age, various man-made artifacts have departed into the solar system, which is not expected to be seen again. In which Shri. Musk’s Tesla Roadster, which was sent into orbit during the first launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket in 2018. But sometimes they go back, such as in 2020 when a newly discovered secret object was discovered to be part of a rocket during a NASA surveyor mission to the moon in 1966.
Mr. Gray has been following this particular part of SpaceX Detritus for years, which helped launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory for National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration in February. 11, 2015.
The observatory, also known by the short name DSCOVR, was headed to a location about a million miles from Earth where it could give an early warning of a potentially catastrophic explosion of energetic particles from the sun.
DSCOVR, originally called Troyna, championed the Earth observation mission when Al Gore was vice president. The Gorset spacecraft was kept in storage for years until it was accepted for use as a solar hurricane warning system. Today it regularly captures images of the entire planet Earth from space, the original purpose of the Trina, including patterns when the moon passes in front of the planet.
Most of the time, the upper phase of the Falcon 9 rocket is pushed back into the Earth’s atmosphere after it delivers its payload into orbit, a systematic way to avoid a mess in space.
But this upper phase required all its propellant to send DSCOVR to its distant destination, and it passed through the lunar orbit and ended up in a very high, elongated orbit around the earth.
Which opened the possibility of a collision one day. The speed of the Falcon 9 stage, dead and uncontrollable, is determined primarily by the gravitational pull of the Earth, the Moon and the Sun, and the pressure of the Sunlight.
Debris in low-Earth orbit is closely tracked due to the threat of satellites and the International Space Station, but more distant objects, such as the DSCOVR rocket, are often forgotten.
“As far as I know, I’m the only one who keeps track of these things,” he said. Gray said.
While numerous spacecraft sent to the moon have crashed there, this is the first time it seems that anything from Earth to the moon will end up there.
On jan. 5, the rocket stage passed less than 6,000 miles from the moon. The moon’s gravity turned him in such a way that it seemed he could cross paths with the moon later.
Mr. Gray urged amateur astronomers to take a look at when the object zipped out from behind Earth last week.
One of the people who answered the call was Peter Bertwissel, who lived about 50 miles west of London. Last Thursday, last week, a 16-inch domed telescope in his garden, grandly named the Great Shepherd Observatory, pointed to the part of the sky where the rocket stage had just passed.
“This thing is moving very fast,” Mr. Bertwhistle said.
Observations have pinned enough paths to predict the effect. Astronomers will have a chance to take another look next month before the rocket stage swings out of the moon for the last time. It should then come in to hit the far side of the moon, out of sight of anyone from Earth.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will not be in a position to see the effect live. But he will later pass through the expected impact space and take photographs of the freshly dug pit.
Mark Robinson, a professor of Earth and Space Research at Arizona State University who serves as chief investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s camera, said he expected four tons of metal to hit at about 5,700 miles per hour at a speed of 10 meters, divet. Wide, or up to 65 feet in diameter.
It will give scientists a look at what is beneath the surface, and unlike a meteor attack, they will know exactly the size and timing of the impact.
India’s Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, in orbit around the moon, will also be able to take photographs of the impact site.
Other spacecraft heading to the moon this year may have a chance to see the impact – if they don’t even make unexpected craters.