Experts say a spent SpaceX booster rocket that has been orbiting the Earth for several years will crash into the moon in the weeks ahead.
According to Ars Technica, the booster lifted off with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in February 2015. After the spent engine separated from the module, it didn't have enough fuel to return to the Earth's atmosphere, but it also was not far away enough from the Earth's surface to travel into deep space.
As a result, the booster engine has been orbiting the Earth in a "chaotic" pattern ever since, like thousands of other pieces of space debris. But according to scientist Bill Gray, the booster will soon make a crash landing — not on the Earth, but on the moon.
Gray, who writes software to track near-Earth objects, wrote on his website Friday that he expects the booster to crash into the moon in early March.
In his post, Gray said he said he expected the booster to make an impact with the dark side of the moon on March 4 — though due to the unpredictability of the travel of space junk, he noted there is some room for error in the location and timing. He added that this would be the first recorded time he was aware of when a piece of space junk has made an unintentional impact with the moon.
He also noted that despite there being thousands of pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth, there is very little cause for concern that such an object could make an impact on our planet.
"Obviously, junk of this sort hasn't been a big deal," he wrote.
Insider noted that other scientists aren't worried about the potential impact. On Tuesday, Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell tweeted that the crash would result in "just another hole in the green cheese."
Just another hole in the green cheese— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) January 25, 2022