It was a few weeks ago when a group of researchers published a paper claiming they had discovered the origin of the mysterious rocket that crashed into the surface of the moon.
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The researchers reported that the strange double crater discovered on the surface of the moon lined up with the trajectory of this rogue rocket. Additionally, the researchers traced the rocket’s trajectory back to China, specifically the Long March 3C rocket body that was discarded from China’s 2014 Chang’e 5-T1 mission.
Reports indicate that an undisclosed additional payload aboard the rocket is what caused the strange double crater that one aerospace engineer said, “This is the first time we see a double crater,” per Tanner Campbell from the University of Arizona. Campbell further explained that to get two craters roughly the same size, you need two “roughly equal masses that are apart from each other“.
At the moment, it remains unclear what caused the extra crater, and if you were to ask the China National Space Administration (CNSA), they would tell you the rocket doesn’t belong to them.
“Obviously, we have no idea what it might have been – perhaps some extra support structure, or additional instrumentation, or something else,” says Campbell. “We probably won’t ever know,” added Campbell.
“Once you’re putting more and more objects on the Moon, it becomes extremely important that we not only track the object, but also understand what they are going to do once they get there,” says Roberto Furfaro, a mechanical engineer at the University of Arizona.