New images taken by NASA's orbiter, which has orbited the Moon since 2009, have revealed the location of the unusual crater, CNN reports .
As a result of the impact of the rocket on the lunar surface, two overlapping craters were formed: an eastern crater with a diameter of 18 meters, and a western crater with a diameter of 16 meters. Together they create a depression approximately 28 meters wide.
The rocket crashed into the Moon on March 4 at the location indicated by the white arrow, and although astronomers had been expecting a collision after discovering it was on its way to impact the Moon, the double crater it created took them by surprise.
As a rule, the main weight of spent rockets is their engine, while the rest of the rocket is just an empty fuel tank. But the double crater suggests that this rocket had heavy fragments at both ends. The exact origin of this piece of space debris that has been flying around the moon for years is unclear, but the double crater could help astronomers determine what it was.
Since the Moon has no atmosphere, this planet is littered with craters formed when space objects like asteroids crash into it.
This case, experts say, was the first unintentional hit of a piece of space debris on the lunar surface, which they know about. Prior to this, the craters were formed as a result of a deliberate collision of spacecraft with the Moon.
Independent researcher Bill Gray, who specializes in orbital dynamics, first determined the trajectory of this rocket fragment and initially identified it as the stage of the SpaceX Falcon rocket that launched the US Deep Space Climate Observatory DSCOVR in 2015. However, he later said that he was mistaken and that it was probably the rocket of the Chinese lunar program in 2014. But the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied that the launch vehicle is of Chinese origin, as the one in question burned up while entering Earth's atmosphere.
Another problem is that no agency systematically monitors space debris this far from Earth, as space debris in low Earth orbit is a more serious problem, where it can collide with functioning satellites and threaten the lives of crews of spacecraft and orbiting stations.
There are at least 26,000 pieces of space debris the size of a tennis ball or more in Earth orbit that could destroy a satellite on impact. And besides, more than 500 thousand objects the size of a table tennis ball that can cause damage to spacecraft or satellites. And finally, more than 100 million pieces the size of a grain of salt rotate in orbit, capable of breaking through a spacesuit ...