A booster from a Chinese rocket will crash into the dark side of the Moon on March 4.
It is from the Chang’e 5-T1 rocket, which launched in 2014 as part of the Chinese space agency’s lunar exploration program.
It was identified as the best match by students in Arizona University’s Space Domain Awareness Lab (SDAL) at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
The students have been watching the space junk for weeks and confirmed on Wednesday that the rocket booster is not the Falcon 9 from Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
They estimate that the rocket booster will crash in or near the Hertzsprung crater on the Moon’s far side.
The Moon is pockmarked by asteroids but the Hertzsprung crater is one of the oldest and largest on the Moon. It was created by an asteroid approximately one third of the size of Broken Hill.
The Moon is tidally locked with Earth, which means that it takes the same time to rotate on its axis (approximately 27 days) as it does to orbit Earth (27.322 days). This means that ‘the man in the moon’ side is always facing Earth.
We can never observe the dark side of the Moon from Earth but SDAL is sending information to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory so there may be images of the crash from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.’
There are approximately 20,000 pieces of debris in space but not many near the Moon.