According to scientists, in ancient times there was at least one collision of an object from an interstellar origin with the Moon. According to statistics and computer simulations, the Earth’s satellite, riddled with craters, should be a good trap for such bodies – it is possible that some of the craters were formed by objects flying through the solar system at high speeds.
At the moment, scientists have discovered only two potential interstellar celestial bodies – Oumuamua and Borisov. In the entire solar system, only a few craters have been found, indicating a collision with similar objects, one or two of which may be located on the moon. Scientists believe that by finding craters of the corresponding origin on the Moon, one can learn more about the composition of such celestial bodies.
Decades of lunar observations have produced fairly detailed maps of the Earth’s satellite, which will be very useful for future lunar missions that will take place in the near future. However, there is almost no spectroscopic information about the composition of the craters – some data can be obtained from orbit, but landing is likely to be needed to obtain more accurate data.
What exactly the astronauts will discover is still not known for certain, since both known interstellar objects differ significantly from each other in structure and composition. Nevertheless, all objects of this type move at speeds that are uncharacteristic of other celestial bodies in the solar system – it is believed that their speed is not affected by the gravitational influence of the Sun. Astronomers believe that the speed of interstellar objects should be at least 260 thousand km / h and the characteristics of the craters can be determined based on these speeds.
Although the human presence on the Moon will be limited in the coming years, flights to the Moon by autonomous ships in support of the Artemis mission are very likely. In the future, a detailed classification of the lunar regolith will be required, and the raw materials for it will be delivered to Earth thanks to the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.
The authors of the study, along with other members of the astronomical community, are still looking for interstellar objects in the solar system using telescopes with a wide field of view. In addition, research may soon be accelerated by the commissioning of facilities such as the Vera C. Rubin Observatory under construction in Chile.
Article published by members of the American Astronomical Society in the publication The Planetary Science Journal.
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