In less than two months, a crash of modest proportions will take place on our local lunar body, forever altering the course of — well, honestly not much, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Part of a SpaceX rocket is due to collide into the far side of the moon on March 4 in what may be the first unintentional case of space junk hitting Earth’s natural satellite.
The junk in question, the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched in February 2015, has been stuck in a “chaotic orbit” for the last seven years (who among us! ha ha) because it didn’t have enough fuel to return to Earth’s atmosphere or to escape the gravitational pull of our planet and moon, per Ars Technica. That chaotic orbit will eventually lead the heap of junk straight into the moon, discovered Bill Gray, the developer of the software Project Pluto, which he uses to track objects and debris close to Earth. Other experts have confirmed Gray’s findings.
No one — not space nerds, not doomsday preppers, not viewers of Adam McKay’s recent mass death-by-comet movie Don’t Look Up — should have any cause for alarm, because this whole thing is supposed to be “not a big deal,” per some astronomers. “The moon is fairly routinely hit with larger objects … It’s well-built to take that sort of abuse,” according to Gray.
But eventually we’ll have to start paying more attention to all the various garbage that our extraterrestrial exploits end up leaving in space, astronomer Jonathan McDowell told the Washington Post.
Besides, just because the moon can take the constant abuse of new crater-forming collisions doesn’t mean she should have to put up with it. Let little miss Luna live!