Science: Space Junk Hits the Moon

The Story:

An old rocker booster hit the moon on Friday, March 4. The impact took place on the far side of the moon, so outside of human sight. But the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) has a lunar reconnaissance orbiter that will soon be in a position to photograph the site of impact.

A Lucky (or Unlucky?) Break for Science:

Scientists consider the accidental crash a lucky break. A planetary astronomer working for the University of Colorado at Boulder, Paul Hayne, called it a “fortuitous experiment that could reveal a lot about how natural collisions pummel and scour planetary surfaces.”

Other scientists are concerned about negative consequences, though. David Rothery, a professor of planetary geosciences at the U.K.’s Open University, said: “What we should worry about is contaminating the moon with living microbes, or molecules that could in the future be mistaken as evidence of former life on the moon.”

So the “fortuitous experiment,” like the moon itself, has two sides.

Strange New Worlds:

An analytical graphics company, AGI, developed an animation of how the crash might have looked had anyone been in orbit above the far side of the moon at the right moment to see it. The result is on YouTube, Link. 

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