A team of British astronomers believe that they have found the lunar module of NASA's Apollo 10 mission – fifty years after the crew put the probe into an orbit around the moon.
The lunar module is one of the largest survivors of the moon landings, and scientists want to find a way to find it in an orbit of 50,000 feet above the lunar surface.
At the time of the 1969 mission, Tom Stafford, a member of the Apollo 10 crew, had returned to Houston from his own orbit around Moon that the crew had completely lost sight of the probe after taking it out of its command module thrown.
In 1969, the crew of Apollo 10 came across the lunar module & # 39; snoopy & # 39; from the Apollo Command Module into an orbit that would never be seen again – so they believed. The command module is shown here on the other side of the moon
American astronauts and crew of the Apollo 10 mission, from left to present the lunar module pilot Eugene Cernan (1934-2017), command module pilot John Young and commander Thomas P Stafford together in front of a command module during training in November 1968
The Earth's view from the spacecraft Apollo 10 with the Baja Peninsula, California, swirling through Clouds were seen
The astronomer Nick Howes, pictured, along with flight controls, space dynamics experts and astronauts from the Apollo Program, have been looking for the lunar module for years and believe they might have found it
"We have no idea where he went. It's just booming and it's gone right in the sun, "Stafford said.
The lunar module, also called Snoopy, seemed lost forever, though the search fascinated many on Earth who thought they might someday be able to find that little needle in a cosmic haystack.
Only four meters wide it was always a long shot, but Nick Howes, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, along with legendary air traffic controllers, space dynamics experts and astronauts from the Apollo program, spent several years here a calculated hunt after the probe.
The team now thinks they may have found it, and according to The Times, all they need is someone with the knowledge to get it.
. The Apollo 10 mission was launched in May 1969 as a dress rehearsal for the moon landing of Apollo 11. Stafford and Cernan climbed from left to right in the Moon Landing Module (pictured) up to 15 km from the Moon's surface
from left to right; Eugene Cernan, John Young and Thomas Stafford stood in space suits in front of the Saturn V rocket and carried the Apollo 10 spaceship. The Apollo 10 Lunar Module was codenamed Snoopy and the Command Module Charlie Brown
left, and the 2010 Apollo 10 astronauts Tom Stafford and Euene Cernan are shown. The crew lost the lunar module after launching it into space.
Howes b Elix Musk may be the founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, able to bring the lunar landing module back to earth
. All other ships deployed during the Apollo missions were either fired at the moon for seismology purposes or fired at the earth's atmosphere.
Snoopy, however, was used as a training run for the moon landing of Apollo 11, which was to take place two months after Apollo 10 in July 1969.
Two of the three astronauts invaded it as they drifted nine miles over the lunar surface. The couple then went back into the command module. The mission was considered a success.
Snoopy was shot down and had to move around orbit forever, without realizing that he was following him.
Eight years ago, Howes began a project to locate the last surviving module and succeeded in getting astronomers from around the world to focus their telescopes on the regions of the moon where he calculated that this could happen.
The Interior of Apollo 10. The vehicle carrying the call sign Charlie Brown was flying about 500,000 miles during the flight, the eight-day mission, exceeding 24,790 miles per hour on her return to Earth
The two astronauts are mapped as part of their mission in their command module
He even convinced schools aboard to come and analyze the data.
The approximate distance it covers in its orbit is 940 million kilometers. If you're looking for something four meters wide, and the last reliable data you got 50 years ago is 50 years ago, it's a bit tricky, "he told the Times.
But contrary to adversity, astronomers seem to have found this unique piece of space junk after discovering an object that is & # 39; weird & # 39; looked.
& # 39; It was a strange anomalous object in about the right orbit and just the right size. The radar data was completely crazy, as an astronomer put it. It was like nothing we have ever seen. We are 99 percent convinced that we have understood it, "Howes said.
Apollo 10, who carried the astronauts Thomas Stafford, Eugene Cernan and John Young, was launched on a lunar orbit on May 18, 1969, the dress rehearsal for Apollo 10's Apollo 11 lunar landing mission (19659050), two months later -Astronauts in the spacecraft before closing the hatch in May 1969. Now, a team in 2019 thinks they may have the four-meter-wide lunar module ” class=”blkBorder img-share” />
Apollo 10 astronauts (left to right): Eugene Cernan, Thomas Stafford and John Young stand smiling in the door of a helicopter carrying them aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Princeton after the successful demolition on May 26, 1969
But even the strongest telescope can not see an object so small at this distance. The only real way to check if the object is actually the Lunar Module is to go up there and have a look.
Howes believes there is a strong case for that.
& # 39; A lunar module, that is, being restored intact would be very special in my opinion. The quality of the engineering, which has been integrated into the Apollo program, would probably mean that some of the systems could even be booted when power was restored.
"I hope someone like Elon Musk can develop something catch it and bring it down again. "
Nick Howes appears in Dude, Where's My Spacecraft? at the Cheltenham Science Festival on June 8th.