Scientists calculate that the SpaceX rocket, launched in 2015, will hit the Moon on March 4 .
Space debris from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched in 2015 is on course to crash into the Moon , astronomers calculate.
The rocket in question is the second stage of the Falcon 9 launched on February 11, 2015 by SpaceX from the John Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, United States, which carried the DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) satellite into space to observe Earth from space.
After completing its mission, the SpaceX rocket, 14 meters and about 4 tons, was abandoned in space and remained in solar orbit without being able to be observed.
But now it’s a threat
However, after years off the radar of astronomers, at the beginning of this 2022, scientists from the Pluto Project collected information on what they initially thought was an asteroid: it was NORAD 40391, the part of the rocket they had not seen for years.
With the data obtained on January 5, scientists believe that the part of the rocket will impact the Moon on March 4, specifically in the area called Mare Orientale , on the edge of the dark side of the satellite.
It is highly-likely that NORAD 40391, a rocket booster launched many years ago, will impact the Moon on March 4th. Come February, more observations should confirm this.https://t.co/2eBaykJEXX pic.twitter.com/wmI9uYLGYi
— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) January 21, 2022
However, it is not 100% likely. In addition to the possibility that its orbit will change, next February it will have a better visible approach to Earth, so astronomers will still carry out recalculations to confirm said impact. Despite this, the chances are high.
This will be the first time space debris has accidentally hit our natural satellite. The Moon has been hit by a rocket before: it was in 2009, during NASA’s LCROSS mission, that it launched a rocket and space probe onto its surface in an attempt to prove the existence of ‘water’.
But at the time, the impact was premeditated and monitored by the LRO spacecraft orbiting the Moon. From now on, this impact will be completely accidental, and it is not yet known if it will be possible to monitor it in any way.