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Mysterious Lunar Impact Crater

By: Sara Walter to astronomy

The image of the "Mysterious Lunar Impact Crater"

There has been an impact site located on the surface of the moon that is said might be the crash site of a long lost 1967 spacecraft. The space craft is called the Lunar Orbiter 2 and was sent into space to take pictures of the moons surface. The pictures were taken to help aid the Apollo missions and were specifically taken to determine possible landing sites.  The Lunar Orbiter 2 became famous for taking what is known as the “picture of the century,” a very popular picture of the moons surface.

The craft crashed on the far side of the moon out of the range of telescopes and radios, so NASA has not been able to determine exactly where the spacecraft impacted.  The reason for suspecting that the new crater on the moon might be from the 1967 spacecraft is that the crash site is located on the far side of the moon where the Orbiter 2 was sent and the shape of the crater is not that of a normal moon crater.  The crater is a butterfly shape and the image that the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a new spacecraft designed to do the same thing that the Orbiter 2 was designed to do, shows this very detail.

James Ashley wrote on an Arizona State University website that studies images from LRO, “The impact appears much too large (approximately 85 meters in diameter) to be the result of an impact from a spacecraft only a few meters tall, but with a solar incidence angle of only 12 degrees, it is difficult to see the crater rim and find out the true diameter”.  However, until scientist are able to get better crater rim measurements they will not be able to determine for certain whether or not this is in fact the Orbiter 2 crash site.

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