Nasa has captured images of a rocket impact site on the Moon that created two large craters on the surface.
The impact occurred on March 4 and is the incident that astronomers had revealed would happen after spotting a rocket booster headed towards the Moon.
Data analyst Bill Gray was the first to discover the booster late last year and initially identified it as a SpaceX rocket on his blog.
He then corrected his post to say that it was a remnant from China’s Long March 3c rocket that launched the Chang’e 5-T1 lunar robotic spacecraft in 2014.
China denied ownership of the rocket, but Nasa disagreed.
“The booster used to launch Chang'e 5-T1 went into a highly elliptical Earth orbit after launch,” Nasa said on its website.
After Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed the collision site, the space agency referred to the crashed object only as the “mystery rocket”.
It created two craters, an eastern crater with a diameter of 18 metres and a western crater that measures 16m in diameter.
“The double crater was unexpected and may indicate that the rocket body had large masses at each end,” the US space agency said on its website on June 24.
“Typically, a spent rocket has mass concentrated at the motor end; the rest of the rocket stage mainly consists of an empty fuel tank. Since the origin of the rocket body remains uncertain, the double nature of the crater may indicate its identity".
“No other rocket body impacts on the Moon created double craters.”
Nasa said the width of both new craters combined were nearly as big as the individual ones left behind by some of the Apollo missions.
Nasa in the late 1960s and early 1970s used to deliberately crash its Apollo Saturn rocket boosters into the lunar surface. This was so the space agency could create moonquakes for seismometers and study the impact.