Part of a SpaceX rocket that lifted off seven years ago will slam into the moon in March. It’s likely the first man-made object to ever accidentally hit the lunar surface. The Falcon 9 rocket blasted the NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite into orbit in February 2015. The second stage has been tumbling through space ever since.
Trapped in the gravitational pull of the Earth and the moon, the four-metric-ton upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket has followed a “chaotic” path since leaving the planet, Arstechnica said. New data shows that it’s now on a collision course with the far side of the moon.
Bill Gray, who writes the Project Pluto blog which tracks near-Earth objects, estimates the collision will happen on March 4. Though, there are a lot of factors still at play. For instance, Gray writes, it’s hard to predict the sunlight’s “pushing” effect.
Unfortunately, scientists won’t likely be able to glean much from the collision because they won’t be able to see the impact. The SpaceX rocket part will most likely hit on the far side of the moon. In 2009, Gray writes, scientists intentionally flew a rocket booster into the moon to see if they could learn anything from the “ejecta.”
The collision will not affect the moon’s orbit, despite some claims on social media. Gray notes that larger objects moving at faster speeds hit the moon often — hence the craters — without incident.
SpaceX May Have a Cat Problem
Elon Musk wants to make broadband internet available around the world as part of his Starlink satellites. But there is an adorable terrestrial problem facing the SpaceX project: cats love their satellite dishes. Several people have noted that animals, particularly cats, are cozying up in the dishes because they produce small amounts of heat to melt snow build-up.
Aaron Taylor, who took the photo of the snuggling cats, said the felines are causing him service interruptions.
“Doesn’t shut it down completely but definitely slows everything down,” he said.
Other people who have the dish have noticed something similar.
“I was checking my dish with a thermal sight, and it actually looks like the whole dish, even the backside is warm. So you might [find] animals under or around it in general if it’s ground-mounted,” one Starlink user wrote on Reddit.
The service is still in beta testing. SpaceX launched its 2,000th Starlink satellites into orbit last week. The company has permission from the U.S. government to launch 10,000 more in the coming years, The Guardian reported.
The company says the service is “ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable.” So far, Starlink has mixed reviews from customers and costs $99 a month.