- Georgina Rannard
- BBC News
Space scientists have said that the rocket part that was scheduled to collide with the moon in March is not part of Elon Musk’s space exploration program “SpaceX”, as it was initially thought.
Alternatively, scientists believe it may be part of a Chinese rocket mission that launched to the moon in 2014.
The scientists pointed out that the impact of this collision on the moon will be slight.
Scientists were able to identify a robotic object on its way to colliding with the moon, on the 4th of next March.
The robotic devices that do not return to Earth after completing their mission in space are called “space junk”.
Journalist Eric Berger was the first to reveal the possibility of a Falcon 9 missile colliding with the Moon, with the help of data analyst Bill Gray, who revealed that the missile was launched in 2015, as part of Elon Musk’s “SpaceX” program.
But Gray now says he made a mistake and instead believes it was a rocket launched in October 2014 as part of China’s Chang’e-5-T1 mission, which sent a small spacecraft to the moon.
Professor Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the US told the BBC he agreed with Gray’s re-evaluation.
He explained that there is a lot of “fundamental uncertainty” in identifying space debris away from Earth, and that errors can occur.
He added that very few volunteers do this on their own time, and that the scope for cross-checking is limited.
A team in the US Army’s Space Force is tracking near-Earth objects, but unwanted space junk in deep orbit is left unattended.
“This still developing discovery underscores the need for enhanced space tracking, and for the largest number of data to be shared among spacecraft operators, launch platform providers, and the astronomy and space observation communities,” the European Space Agency commented on the event.
Professor McDowell said he was 80 percent sure that the object heading for the moon was from a Chinese rocket launch in 2014.
He had told the BBC, when it was first discovered, that this would be the first collision of an uncontrolled rocket into the moon.
The missile will explode as soon as it contacts the moon.
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