Cheltenham Science Festival
Scientists believe they’ve located the Apollo Lunar Module Snoopy—50 years after it was released into space.
Nick Howes, a fellow at the Royal Astronomical Society, said he is “98 percent convinced” he and his team have found it.
But until someone goes and retrieves it, “we can’t be 100 percent sure,” he told Sky News.
Part of the Apollo 10 crewed lunar mission, LM Snoopy and command module Charlie Brown launched in May 1969—a “dress rehearsal” for the first Moon landing.
After reaching lunar orbit, Commander Thomas Stafford and LM pilot Eugene Cernan lowered Snoopy to about 50,000 feet above the Moon’s surface, where they surveyed the Sea of Tranquility before returning to the command module.
Snoopy was then sent on a trajectory past the Moon, into a heliocentric orbit, never to be seen again.
The successful test enabled Neil Armstrong’s famous first steps during the Apollo 11 mission two months later.
It also left a lonely capsule floating aimlessly through outer space.
NASA astronaut Thomas Stafford touches mascot Snoopy’s nose for good luck (via NASA)
When Howes began searching for the module in 2011, he calculated the odds of locating it were 235 million to one.
That didn’t stop him, though: He and a team of astronomers analyzed terabytes of radar data until, last year, they discovered what they believed to be Snoopy.
“Until someone gets really close to it and gets a detailed radar profile, we can’t be sure,” Howes said, according to Sky News.
“We’ve got to wait quite a few years for it to come back, but once it does come back, the idea is that we are going to get a really detailed picture of it,” he continued. “It would be a really fantastic achievement for science.”
But why spend the time, energy, and money trying to find a missing hunk of metal?
“From a space archaeology point of view, it’s interesting,” Howes explained. “It’s the only one that’s up there that has flown that is left. … As a piece of history, a moment in history, this is a unique artifact.”
Speaking at England’s Cheltenham Science Festival, Howes revealed his “ideal candidate” to bring Snoopy home.
“I would love to get Elon Musk and his wonderful spacecraft up [to] grab it and bring it down,” he said.
SpaceX is a little busy at the moment, but I’m sure the billionaire entrepreneur could find some time for a side project.
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