Context. Chinese lunar missions have grown in number over the last ten years, with an increasing focus on radio science investigations. In previous work, we estimated two lunar gravity field models, CEGM01 and CEGM02. The recently lunar mission, Chang’e 5T1, which had an orbital inclination between 18 and 68 degrees, and collected orbital tracking data continually for two years, made an improved gravity field model possible.Aims. Our aim was to estimate a new lunar gravity field model up to degree and order 100, CEGM03, and a new tidal Love number based on the Chang’e 5T1 tracking data combined with the historical tracking data used in the solution of CEGM02. The new model makes use of tracking data with this particular inclination, which has not been used in previous gravity field modeling.Methods. The solution for this new model was based on our in-house software, LUGREAS. The gravity spectrum power, post-fit residuals after precision orbit determination (POD), lunar surface gravity anomalies, correlations between parameters, admittance and coherence with topography model, and accuracy of POD were analyzed to validate the new CEGM03 model.Results. We analyzed the tracking data of the Chang’e 5T1 mission and estimated the CEGM03 lunar gravity field model. We found that the two-way Doppler measurement accuracy reached 0.2 mm s−1 with 10 s integration time. The error spectrum shows that the formal error for CEGM03 was at least reduced by about 2 times below the harmonic degree of 20, when compared to the CEGM02 model. The admittance and correlation of gravity and topography was also improved when compared to the correlations for the CEGM02 model. The lunar potential Love number k2 was estimated to be 0.02430±0.0001 (ten times the formal error).Conclusions. From the model analysis and comparison of the various models, we identified improvements in the CEGM03 model after introducing Chang’e 5T1 tracking data. Moreover, this study illustrates how the low and middle inclination orbits could contribute better accuracy for a low degree of lunar gravity field.

China maintains that this was in no way their rocket stage, FWIW

The case of the mysterious moon crash is now conclusively closed, a new study reports.

The mystery involved the identity of the impactor, which astronomers designated WE0913A. Initial observations suggested it might be the upper stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched the Earth-observing DSCOVR satellite in February 2015. But, after further work, astronomers soon settled on a different candidate: The third and uppermost stage of the Long March 3C rocket that lofted China's uncrewed Chang'e 5-T1 mission around the moon in October 2014.

The new study also sheds further light on the distinctive crater that resulted from the March 2022 moon crash.

The most plausible explanation for this behavior, team members said, is a dumbbell-like object — one with considerable mass at each end.