Apparently, humans made a crater on the moon when Apollo 16 rocket booster has crashed on its surface, back in 1972. The rocket booster of Apollo 16 has been lost for almost 44 years until now, when it has finally been discovered by astronomer and specialist into finding ‘lost in space’ objects Jeff Plescia, with the help of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Back in April 1972 NASA has intentionally crashed stage three booster Saturn V on the surface of the moon after the astronauts John Young, Charles Duke Jr and Thomas Mattingly II had left it. The Agency intended to collect seismic measurements that would help them learn more about the moon’s structure.
Unfortunately, the astronauts have lost track of the booster as a result of a malfunction and no sign of it has been found until now.
Jeff Plecia, professor at John Hopkins University and the one who has finally discovered the traces of Saturn V, claims that the crater looks like the others but since the tracking has been lost before the impact, its position is more poorly defined.
Since the end of the Apollo program, NASA has done great progress into understanding the moon. It has even detected the Earth’s gravitational effects on the lunar surface, which is thought to cause moonquakes. Yet, we will only know for sure when a seismic network of sensors will be established on the moon.
Launched on April 16, 1972, the Apollo 16 mission was the fifth to take humans to the moon. Only one Apollo mission has followed on December 7, 1972, which was the last time men walked on the moon.
Apollo 16 mission had three main objectives. After landing in the Descartes region it had to survey, inspect and sample materials, activate surface experiments, take photographs from the lunar orbit and conduct in-flight experiments. Besides that, NASA was also interested in testing spacecraft and equipment but also in conducting experiments in zero gravity.
The Descartes region was chosen for the presupposition of containing volcanic rocks. Geologists were hoping that if they got to study some of those, they would understand how was formed the interior of the moon. Unfortunately, no rocks of volcanic nature have been found, making this another failure of the mission.
However, the Apollo 16 mission had brought home valuable data, including photos of the Earth and other parts of the solar system never seen before.
On the last day on the moon, astronaut Duke has left on its surface a photo of his wife and his two sons.
Image source: sciencealert.com