Cheltenham Science Festival
Snoopy may have been spotted in space.
No, not the Peanuts character — a lunar module that has been hiding in the depths of the milky way since 1969.
In May of that year the Apollo 10 crew, working from a command and service module named Charlie Brown, launched a lunar module called Snoopy towards the moon, on an expedition to examine its surface.
Snoopy, guided by astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan, went within kilometres of the moon but didn’t go the whole way. The mission served as a test run before Apollo 11 astronauts were sent to the moon for real two months later.
When its job was done, and because technicians had no way of retrieving the lunar module, Snoopy let off its leash, roaming alone in space. Until now.
Nick Howes, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, told SkyNews he is “98 per cent convinced” that his team has finally tracked down the rogue module. Howes was speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the U.K.
Howes and others first started the manhunt for Snoopy in 2011, digging through optical data and observations at Mount Lemmon in Arizona.
Howes took to Twitter to say recent good luck, as well as earlier findings in 2018, have bolstered his theory that the module they have discovered is really Snoopy.
“Until we get close up radar data, nobody will know for sure… but it’s promising,” he tweeted.
“A close approach mission, given the object distance and magnitude, will be the only way to conclusively prove it.”
With the module out of reach, Howes says observation is “next to impossible” — so he’s trying to get creative.
“I would love to get Elon Musk and his wonderful spacecraft up and grab it and bring it down,” he told the science festival, according to SkyNews.
Howes says a suggestion from the audience at the festival also brought up the idea of sending a miniature satellite, known as a cubeseat, to get closer to what may be Snoopy. But he’s not too worried about finding it.
“What our hunt for Snoopy did prove though is the huge interest in space archeology,” Howes tweeted.
For now, he says “we have 102 observations… some good orbital data… some ‘interesting’ radar (observations) and a very small manmade object hurtling through space.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019