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Chinese rocket landed on the moon with unknown heavy cargo: scientists cited evidence

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
Chinese rocket leaves double crater on the Moon

In March 2022, an unidentified object known as WE0913A fell to the lunar surface. At the time, it was believed that it could either be part of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket or a booster for the Chinese lunar mission's Chang'e-5-T1 rocket. Now, scientists who have unraveled the origin of the object have discovered something in its behavior that has no explanation.

IFLScience writes about it, citing research by scientists from the University of Arizona, the California Institute of Technology, the Pluto Project, and the Institute for Planetary Science. They suggest that no one will ever know the truth about what happened to the object.

The man-made piece of space debris was "accompanied" by scientists from all over the world on its way to the lunar surface. But they could not determine what it was exactly. To do this, they had to conduct some space detective work to find out where the uncontrollable object came from.

A double crater on the Moon

Suspicions fell on Elon Musk's Falcon 9 rocket, but later more and more evidence pointed to the fact that it was a booster as part of the Chang'e-5-T1 lunar mission. China, however, denied any involvement in the incident.

Now, scientists have tracked the object's trajectory using ground-based telescope observations and concluded that WE0913A is part of the body of China's Long March rocket from the Chang'e-5-T1 mission, which was launched in 2014.

While examining the object, they also realized that the rocket stage probably carried an "undisclosed additional payload." They came to this conclusion based on two nuances of the rocket's behavior and fall.

Firstly, according to the scientists, the object did not wobble while falling to the Moon but rotated in a fairly organized manner. According to them, this may mean that the rocket stage was balanced by a significant counterweight for the two engines, each of which weighs 544 kilograms.

"Something that's been in space for so long is going to be affected by the gravity of the Earth and the Moon, as well as sunlight. So one would expect it to wobble a bit, especially when you consider that the rocket's body is a big hollow shell with a heavy engine on one side. But it just tipped over from side to side very steadily," said Tanner Campbell, author of the study and a doctoral student at the University of Arizona's Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

He added that scientists know that the launch vehicle had a dashboard mounted on the opposite end from the engines, but it only weighed about 27 kilograms, so it could not balance the engines weighing more than a ton. The scientists' analysis showed that such an arrangement of components would have shifted the rocket's center of gravity, but not so much that it was enough to keep it spinning steadily.

"This makes us believe that there must have been something bigger at the front," the researcher added.

Secondly, as the scientists said, after the stage fell to the Moon, strange craters were formed, overlapping one another. One crater is about 18 meters in diameter, and the other is about 16 meters.

According to Campbell, this confirms the idea that the stage had approximately the same weight at one end and the other.

"This is the first time we've seen a double crater. We know that in the case of Chang'e 5-T1, the impact was almost direct, and in order to form two craters of roughly the same size, you need two roughly equal masses that are at a distance from each other," the scientist said.

Scientists can only guess what the rocket could have been carrying.

"Obviously, we have no idea what it could have been. Perhaps it was some additional support structure, instruments, or something else. We will probably never know," he summarized.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA explained why all countries are so eager to land on the south pole of the Moon.

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