A batch of space junk is about to hit the Moon. The real kicker here, though, is that nobody wants to take the blame for the leftover rocket currently spiraling at 5,800 mph towards the Moon. When it collides with the Lunar body, the space junk will leave a crater capable of fitting several semi-trailers within it.
A piece of space junk is about to hit the moon and leave a crater in its wake
Normally, when space junk is flung out into the depths of the universe, nobody bothers to keep track of it. Most of the time this junk flies through space without the risk of hitting anything. Of course, this isn’t always the case, as we saw space junk slam into the ISS back in 2021.
The latest piece of junk to capture the public’s attention does have a target, though, and it’s the Moon. Some believe the junk in question is a leftover rocket, and it is currently tracking to smash into the far side of the moon on Friday, March 4, 2022. When it hits it will be traveling at 5,800 mph.
Scientists expect the space junk to carve out a hole roughly 33 feet to 66 feet. They also expect it to send a ton of Moondust flying hundreds of miles across the Lunar surface. (via ABC News). Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to confirm the hit for a while, as it will strike the side of the Moon away from prying eyes on Earth. However, with any luck, perhaps the Colmena Project could use its robots to explore the new crater later this year.
We don’t know who to blame
One of the most intriguing bits about the space junk about to hit the moon, though, is that nobody has taken the blame just yet. At least, not in any official capacity. Back in January, asteroid tracker Bill Gray identified the piece’s collision course with the Moon. He originally suspected that it was a break-off from a SpaceX Falcon rocket launched in 2015. However, he later went back on those claims. Now, he says that it is more likely the third stage of a Chinese rocket from 2014.
China hasn’t exactly been exempt from terrible space-related incidents. Back in 2020, one of China’s launches suffered a terrible blow when a booster came falling back to the Earth and crashed near a school. In this instance, though, the Chinese ministry says that the upper stage of its test capsule from 2014 reentered Earth’s atmosphere and subsequently burned up.
However, U.S. Space Command says that it has no records of that piece reentering the atmosphere. In fact, it believes that people could be mixing up the launch from 2014 and another launch from 2020. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s junk from the Chinese mission. At the moment, nobody can really confirm the origin of the object set to strike the Moon in less than a day. And, the chances of us ever having someone to blame fully are slim as much of the debris will probably break up in the crash.
Ultimately, though, who to blame isn’t really that important here, and it isn’t something we’re likely to prove anytime soon. What we do know is that the results will be the same no matter who the blame falls on. This piece of space junk will strike the Moon at almost 6,000 mph. It will leave a fairly large crater in its wake.