Last year, astronomers discovered the body of a rocket aimed at a lunar collision. The crash occurred on March 4, and the resulting crater was later discovered by NASA’s lunar reconnaissance orbiter.

Surprisingly, the crater actually consists of two craters, an eastern crater (18 meters in diameter, about 19.5 yards), above the western crater (16 meters in diameter, about 17.5 yards).

The double crater was unexpected and could indicate that the rocket’s body has large masses at each end. Usually the spent rocket has a mass concentrated at the end of the engine; the rest of the rocket stage consists mainly of an empty fuel tank. As the origin of the rocket’s body remains uncertain, the dual nature of the crater may indicate its identity.

No other rocket strikes have been made on the moon double craters. The four Apollo SIV-B craters were slightly irregular in shape (Apollos 13, 14, 15, 17) and were significantly larger (more than 35 meters, about 38 yards) than each of the double craters. The maximum width (29 meters, about 31.7 yards) of the double crater of the body of the mysterious missile was close to that of the S-IVB.

The LRO is operated by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Scientific Missions Directorate at NASA’s Washington headquarters. Launched on June 18, 2009, LRO has amassed a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful tools, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of the moon. NASA is returning to the moon with commercial and international partners to expand its human presence in space and bring back new knowledge and capabilities.


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