What Happened to the Moon on March 4, 2022?

what happened to moon march 4th 2022

Getty A photo taken on May 13, 2019 shows a view of the moon in Cannes, southern France.

A “rogue” rocket crashed into the moon on March 4, 2022, creating a new crater, scientists say. The origin of the rocket has not been confirmed. NASA and other agencies have said they are continuing to investigate the incident, but experts say it is not a big deal. The lunar collision happened about 7:25 a.m. Eastern, according to National Geographic.

The rocket had been in space, drifting toward the moon, since about 2015, scientists told National Geographic. The collision had been predicted by astronomers. “It’s not a big deal at the current level of occupation of the moon, which is currently population: robots, a couple of dozen; humans, zero. And maybe alien mutants grown from the human poop left there. There’s not much for it to hit, astronomer Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics, told National Geographic.

Here’s what you need to know about what happened to the moon on March 4, 2022:

The Space Junk Slammed Into the Moon on Its Far Side & the Impact Couldn’t Be Seen From Earth

Astronomer Bill Gray first spotted the rocket. Gray, who runs Project Pluto, told The Atlantic the impact of the rocket debris likely created a new crater about 20 meters, or 65 feet, wide. “It would almost completely cover a basketball court,” he told The Atlantic. The space junk slammed into the lunar surface on the far side of the moon and the impact could not be seen from Earth.

“We didn’t expect to be able to get any image of the actual impact. There are two spacecraft that get images of the far side of the moon, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and India’s Chandrayaan-2. Those will be able to find the crater. (Since it’s on the far side, all the telescopes we have on earth have no chance at all.) Those spacecraft get to see any given part of the moon about once a month, so we’d have had to be really lucky for them to be at the right place at the right time to see the impact. (Repositioning them isn’t much of an option; they don’t have that much fuel.) And we weren’t that lucky,” Gray wrote on his website.

National Geographic wrote in March, “The rogue rocket was completely obliterated, punching a crater in the lunar surface and launching a plume of sharp, corrosive dust into orbit that may linger for hours. Humans couldn’t see the action, though—the rocket smashed into the moon’s far side in 350-mile-wide Hertzsprung crater, and lunar orbiters did not see the rocket come down.”

There Was Speculation the Rocket Was Part of a Chinese Spacecraft or Part of a SpaceX Falcon9

There was initial speculation the debris was part of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, but astronomers then discovered that the upper stage of that rocket, launched by the Elon Musk-owned company in 2015 to deliver a
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite into space, had ended up orbiting the sun, according to National Geographic.

Scientists now believe the rocket is part of a Chinese spacecraft from the Chang’e 5-T1 mission, National Geographic reported. However, Chinese officials have said that the rocket deorbited and burned up. So there’s no definitive answer as to where the space junk came from. U.S. Space Command said in a statement to the media, “While U.S. Space Command can confirm the CHANG’E 5-T1 rocket body never de-orbited, we cannot confirm the country of origin of the rocket body that may impact the moon.”

Michelle Hanlon, a University of Mississippi-based space lawyer and founder of the moon preservation nonprofit For All Moonkind, told National Geographic, “We need to make sure that we go to space responsibly. That means making sure we do the right things—we figure out where our rockets are going and make sure we don’t just start throwing stuff on the moon for the heck of it.”

Read More