A rogue rocket part collided with the moon
It's the first piece of space junk found on a lunar collision course—and astronomers worry the problem will only get worse.
In the first known event of its kind, a new crater has been carved into the lunar surface by a piece of space junk. Around 7:25 a.m. ET on March 4, a discarded rocket stage that’s been drifting through deep space since at least 2015 collided with the moon.
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.
Astronomers believe the derelict rocket stage came from China’s Chang’e 5-T1 mission that launched in 2014,