Moon Impactor is Chinese Booster Rocket with Unknown Object Attached

Category: Cover Story

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A study that included PSI Lab Technician Neil Pearson determined that the item that crashed into the Moon on March 4, 2022 was a Chinese booster rocket with an unknown object attached to it.

The object, known as WE0913A, crashed into the Moon leaving two craters after several close flybys of the Earth and the Moon in the previous three months. Leading up to impact, the identity of the lunar impactor was up for debate, with two possibilities: the Falcon 9 from the DSCOVR mission or the Long March 3C from the Chang’e 5-T1 mission.

Pearson is a co-author of the paper “Physical Characterization of Moon Impactor WE0913A” in The Planetary Science Journal that presents a trajectory and spectroscopic analysis using ground-based telescope observations to show conclusively that WE0913A is the Long March 3C rocket body (R/B) from the Chang’e 5-T1 mission.

Comparing the pre- and post-impact images of the location shows two distinct craters that were made, supporting the hypothesis that there was additional mass on the rocket body.