A Lot Is Happening On and Around the Moon
From collisions to discoveries, and more!
By: Kirsten Brooker | March 14, 2022 | 630 Words
The Moon, with a diameter of roughly 2,160 miles, is the Earth’s only natural satellite. For years, scientists have studied it, as it is one of the most visible and recognizable objects in the sky. Lunar activity is captured by satellites that orbit the moon continuously. Recently, the celestial body collided with something floating around in space. The impact marked the first time a manmade object accidentally struck the Moon. But that isn’t all that’s going on up there.
Manmade Junk Collides with the Moon
On Friday, March 4, 2022, a rocket booster is believed to have crashed into the surface of the Moon after floating in space for nearly eight years. Scientists are not entirely sure that contact was made with the Moon, as the orbiting satellites have not yet passed by the area assumed to be hit. It could take weeks or even months before they know for sure.
The rocket was first thought to be part of the SpaceX Falcon 9 craft, launched by Elon Musk and his team in 2015. Later, it was said to be part of the Chang’e 5-T1, a Chinese rocket launched in 2014, but China denied the rocket was theirs.
The collision likely made a crater approximately 65 feet in diameter, but this cannot be proven until scientists can look at satellite images.
NASA Is Flying Names Around the Moon
How cool would it be to have your name flown around the Moon? NASA is offering this free service to the public. Those who sign-up will have their names added to a flash drive that will be taken onto the Orion capsule as part of the Artemis 1 mission.
In addition, each participant will receive a virtual boarding pass that will contain their name and details about the flight. There will be no human onboard the Orion capsule. This flight is a test meant to determine if humans can be taken to the Moon on future flights. Though no exact date has been released, the flight could occur as soon as May.
Members of the public can sign-up to fly their names around the moon here.
US Military Plans to Extend its Space Awareness
The US space mission currently extends 22,000 miles above Earth. The military would like to extend that range by ten times, to explore deeper into cislunar space (the area between the Earth and the moon). The US Air Force Research Laboratory plans to launch a Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS), starting with a satellite that will travel more than 270,000 miles from Earth, to the far side of the moon.
Brian Weeden, the director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation, said: “It’s the first step for them to be able to know what’s going on in cislunar space and then identify any potential threats to US activities.”
The satellite will provide the military with information that they would not have access to otherwise.
Two Glass Spheres Found on the Moon
Two glass spheres between 0.59 and 0.79 inches across were discovered by China’s Yutu 2 rover. It is likely that these globules were formed by relatively recent meteor impacts. They are made from a volcanic rock called anorthosite, which is rich in feldspar – a group of minerals that contains calcium, sodium, or potassium.
Scientist Zhiyong Xiao and his team are thrilled about the insight the glass spheres could bring concerning the Moon’s history. The discovery will help to guide future lunar missions to put humans on the Moon for longer amounts of time.