Last year, astronomers discovered that a rogue rocket body was on a collision course with the Moon. The impact occurred March 4, 2022. Now, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted the resulting crater — or rather craters.
The fact that the collision produced two craters is odd; no previously witnessed rocket-body impacts on the Moon have created such a double crater. This suggests something about the identity of the rocket that slammed into the lunar surface.
According to the NASA press release, in order to produce such a double crater, the rocket likely had to have a large mass on either end, a feature not usually seen in a spent rocket, whose mass is concentrated at the end where the engines reside. This suggests the impactor was either a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched in 2015 or a Chinese 5-1 booster launched in 2014.
However, the impactor’s true identity still remains unclear, and neither party has yet taken responsibility.