When it comes to searching for artifacts from the space race of the 1960s, little is more demanding than flying hardware. Oh, of course, there were stories about small samples of 382 kg of lunar stones and dust that were returned at the cost of about $ 25 billion, turning them into the hands of private collectors, and the moon's pieces could be the ultimate collector's item. , but really, at the end of the day it's just rock and dust. The serious space addict wants hardware – the real parts of human engineering that helped to realize an epic adventure, and the closer the moon has to the artifact, the more desirable.  The Saturn V rocket, just a 5,600kg command module is returned to Earth intact. The rest was left on the road, mostly burned in the atmosphere or left on the surface of the moon. While some of these artifacts are recovering ̵
But at least one artifact escaped this obscene destiny, silently circling the sun over the last 50 years. This lone post of the space program, the climbing phase of the Apollo 10 moon, seems to have been located by a team of amateur astronomers, and if indeed the spacecraft called "Snoopy" by his crew is still there
For as well designed as the entire Apollo program, she made some serious compromises to get to the moon within the time given by President Kennedy's speech in 1961. With the presence of a bottomless pit of the available money, it was much faster to design Apollo as a series from one-time modules, rather than the return of spacecraft for re-use. That's why everything that applies to Apollo has been trading money for the pace of development, everything that's built to do just one job, do it well, and then, for the most part, be gone.
This design philosophy was clear from the arrangement of the lunar module or LM. Deployed from the warehouse under the Command Module (CSM) and arriving at it, the indescribable junction made the transit journey, after which LM dropped to the surface, stopped and maneuvered the engine at the lower descent. When the time came to get home, the two astronauts launched the upper stage of climb back into the lunar orbit attached to the CSM, and rejected the now useless phase of climbing that would rotate around the moon shortly before it crashed into it.
This was the scenario for all the piloted sites. But Apollo 10, the general rehearsal about the possible landing of Apollo 11, was different. Its mission was to further characterize the moon's gravity so that the guidance systems were tightly calibrated for Apollo 11, as well as allowing the entire ground control team to practice for the big show. To this end, astronauts Tom Stafford and Jin Chernan descended to LM "Snoopy" up to 14 km from the lunar surface, surprisingly close and still before discarding the lower descent and returning to the Charlie Braun Command Module, Pilot
Instead of turning into ruins on the surface like the downhill stage, the remaining fuel in the Snooping climbing stage was used to launch it from the moon's orbit. It is unclear why this is done by any of the available mission documents, but we can make some assumptions. First, the missions of Apollo 11 ahead of the left seismometers of the moon surface and the presence of something massive surface crash at some time and place were the perfect way to validate the instruments. Since Chernan and Staffordshire never touched Snoopy, they never put these tools, so breaking the machine on the Moon is pointless.
In addition, Snoopy returned to a meeting with Charlie Brown with a much more propeller on board than on the climbing stage, and they actually got to the surface. Maybe mission planners worry about polluting potential landing sites with the wizard's hyperleglical glass worn from their tanks. Whatever the reason, Snoopy is placed in a heliocentric orbit that NASA traced for a while, but only when it became clear that it was no longer a threat to astronauts while returning home. Snopi's long, lonely road in space had begun.
Snoopy remains largely lost for the next 50 years. But astronomers love the challenge, and the thought of finding a 4-meter piece of history after half a century is proving to be insurmountable. Nick House an astronomer amateur and associate of the Royal Astronomical Society, who set out to find Snoopy. He and a team of astronomers using telescopes in Hawaii, Australia and Arizona together with several terabytes of radar data began their search in 2011.
Working back from the beginning of Snoopy's long road in 1969, they found enough clues in the data to make a list of a number of near-Earth objects with the potential to be Snoopy. But we did a lot of mess there. Added to the pile of natural objects in the vicinity of Earth's orbit, the narrowing of this list takes some action. One such object, the WT1190F, was originally thought to be Snoopy, but it was determined to be the Star 37 missile engine used to transpose the mission Lunar Prospector in 1998. The WT1190F orbit eventually crossed the Earth's orbit. in 2015 and eventually burned over the Indian Ocean.
However, an object was highlighted by the data. Duplicate 2018AV2, the object has an orbital period of 382 days, making it a little slower than Earth and is currently following. It is much on the same orbital plane as Earth, a good indicator that this is an artificial object. Its obvious brightness corresponds to what can be expected from the lunar climbing module, so all the signs indicate it's Snoopy. However, the site is currently over one-third of an astronomical unit, or 55,000,000 km, away from the Earth – too far to be 100% sure. More observations, such as small disturbances in its orbit that would not happen for natural objects, or spectrographic analysis to see if their paint corresponds to NASA's records, are needed to make sure it is Snoopy.
The next time AV2 approached the Earth was July 2037, almost 68 years since Snoopy was abandoned in space. It will be only 6,400,000 km, close enough to be able to set up a recovery mission. This gives us 18 years to tighten the data, probably by sending a small satellite to catch it and maybe take a picture. If it's Snoopy, it's a unique artefact and maybe it's possible to send a rescue mission to restore it. It would be terribly expensive, but something similar is practically invaluable in terms of historical value and may be irresistible for a future treasure hunter, as Nick House and others did to find it first.