Recently, A leftover piece of a spacecraft flying through space reportedly hit the surface of the moon, creating a new crater that may be around 65 feet wide. The piece of space junk was earlier believed to be a SpaceX rocket, but was later said to be the third-stage booster of Chang’e 5-T1 – a lunar mission launched by the China National Space Administration in 2014.
GS III- Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article
- About Chang’e-5 mission
- How will the impact be confirmed?
- Is the crater permanent?
About Chang’e-5 mission:
- The probe is named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess.
- The rocket is comprised of four parts:
- an orbiter,
- a returner,
- an ascender
- a lander.
- Objective: To bring back lunar rocks, the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from the moon in four decades.
- If successful, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the moon, following the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.
- This will help scientists learn about the moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.
The Chang’e-5 mission is expected to realize four “firsts” in China’s space history:
- The first time for a probe to take off from the surface of the Moon.
- The first time to automatically sample the lunar surface.
- The first time to conduct unmanned rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit.
- The first time to return to Earth with lunar soil samples in escape velocity.
How will the impact be confirmed?
- NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 orbiter are two active lunar missions that are capable of observing the crater and picturing it.
- The location of the impact – on the far side of the moon – has made it difficult for the crater to be pictured and studied immediately.
Is the crater permanent?
- Both the earth and the moon have been hit by multiple objects like asteroids throughout their existence, but craters on the moon are of a more permanent nature than those on earth.
- This is because of processes like erosion, tectonics, and volcanism.
- According to NASA, these three processes keep the surface of the earth crater-free and remove traces of collisions that have happened in the past.
- Currently, the earth has less than 200 known craters while the moon has thousands.
- An absence of atmosphere means there is no wind system and no weather on the moon, and hence no cause for erosion of existing craters.
- Absence of tectonics prevents the moon’s surface from forming new rocks, or causing a shift in the existing surface patterns, unlike that on earth.
- Absence of volcanism makes it impossible for craters to be covered.
-Source: The Hindu