Journal: News & Comment

Saturday, September 14, 2002
# 11:03:00 PM:

Persistent trash

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An amateur astronomer has spotted what is apparently a piece of the Apollo 12 moon rocket, which was supposed to have been swung out into its own orbit around the Sun in 1969. Errors in NASA calculations back then meant that it stayed in orbit around Earth, then drifted slowly into a solar orbit long after it was supposed to.

This last spring, Earth grabbed it back into its own orbit again, and it circles us about twice as far as the Moon. Now there is a 20% chance it will smack into the Moon, and a 3% chance it will burn up in our atmosphere.

Doesn't "moon rocket" sound quaint and out of date now? Of course, if we needed to go to the Moon tomorrow, we couldn't.


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