By: Ariana Garcia Chron ……
NASA has discovered the crash site of a “mystery rocket body” that collided with the Moon’s surface earlier this year. The impact left behind a widespread “double crater,” meaning it wasn’t the average rocket.
However, since its crash landing, none of Earth’s space-exploring nations have claimed responsibility for the mysterious projectile, leaving NASA scientists baffled as to who was behind its launch. New images shared on June 24 by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show the unusual impact site.
“Surprisingly the crater is actually two craters, an eastern crater (18-meter diameter, about 19.5 yards) superimposed on a western crater (16-meter diameter, about 17.5 yards,” NASA reported. “The double crater was unexpected…No other rocket body impacts on the Moon created double craters.”
Astronomers anticipated the crash after spotting the unidentified rocket on a collision course with the Moon late last year. It finally hit on March 4 near the Hertzsprung crater, a “complex” impact crater on the far side of the Moon.
NASA stated that the two large masses on each end of the rocket may have caused the craters, but noted that the impact marks are highly unusual. Spent rockets, according to NASA, tend to have a heavy motor at one end and a lighter empty fuel tank on the other, scientists say. The space agency did not offer any guesses on what the additional mass was.
“Since the origin of the rocket body remains uncertain, the double nature of the crater may indicate its identity,” NASA said in a news release.
At least 47 NASA rocket bodies have created “spacecraft impacts” on the moon, according to 2016 data from Arizona State University. Four large moon craters attributed to Apollo 13, 14, 15 and 17 missions are substantially larger than each of the overlapping craters created by the March 4 impact, according to NASA. However, scientists said the maximum width of the new double crater is near that of the Apollo craters.