Highlights

  • A rogue rocket is on course to crash into the Moon: all you need to know
  • Will crash on dark side of the moon, invisible from Earth
  • Booster of rocket in chaotic orbit around Earth and Moon since 2015

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A rogue rocket is on course to crash into the Moon: all you need to know

The booster is tumbling wildly as it travels, which adds some uncertainty to the timing and location of the predicted impact. It is likely to occur on the far side of the Moon, so it won’t be visible from Earth.

In a few weeks’ time, a rocket launched in 2015 is expected to crash into the Moon.

The fast-moving piece of space junk is the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket which hoisted the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite off our planet. It has been chaotically looping around Earth and the Moon ever since.

Asteroid-hunter Bill Gray has been keeping tabs on the 4-tonne booster since its launch. This month he realised his orbit-tracking software projected the booster will slam into the lunar surface on March 4, moving at more than 9,000 kilometres per hour.

The booster is tumbling wildly as it travels, which adds some uncertainty to the timing and location of the predicted impact. It is likely to occur on the far side of the Moon, so it won’t be visible from Earth.

Some astronomers say the collision is “not a big deal”, but for space archaeologists it’s quite exciting.

It will be the Moon’s newest archaeological site, joining more than 100 other locations that document human activity on the Moon and in cislunar space.

A history of crash landing on the Moon. The impact will leave a new crater on the dark side of the Moon.

The very first human-made artefact to make contact with the Moon was the Soviet Luna 2 in 1959 - an extraordinary feat, as it was only two years after the launch of Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite.

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