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Newest Crater On the Moon


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
  1. About Chang’e-5 mission
  2. How will the impact be confirmed?
  3. 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 Change-5 mission is expected to realize four firsts in Chinas 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

July 2024