The lunar surface has a new hole on its surface thanks to huge rock crashes into moon in March 2013.
Creating the biggest explosion scientists have seen on the moon since they started monitoring it.
The meteorite crashed on March 17, slamming into the lunar surface at a mind-boggling 56,000 mph and creating a new crater 65 feet wide. The crash sparked a bright flash of light that would have been visible to anyone looking at the moon at the time with the naked eye, NASA scientists say.
“On March 17, 2013, an object about the size of a small boulder hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium,” Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement. “It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we’ve ever seen before.”
NASA astronomers have been monitoring the moon for lunar meteor impacts for the past eight years, and haven’t seen anything this powerful before.
Scientists didn’t see the huge rock crashes into moon in real time. It was only when Ron Suggs, an analyst at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., reviewed a video of the bright moon crash recorded by one of the moon monitoring program’s 14-inch telescopes that the event was discovered.
“It jumped right out at me, it was so bright,” Suggs said.
Scientists deduced the rock had been roughly 1-foot-wide and weighted about 88 lbs (40 kg).The explosion it created was as powerful as 5 tons of TNT, NASA scientists said.
When researchers looked back at their records from March, they found that the moon meteor might not have been an isolated event.
“On the night of March 17, NASA and University of Western Ontario all-sky cameras picked up an unusual number of deep-penetrating meteors right here on Earth,” Cooke said. “These fireballs were traveling along nearly identical orbits between Earth and the asteroid belt.”
Though Earth’s atmosphere protected our planet’s surface from being hit by these meteors, the moon has no such luck. Its lack of an atmosphere exposes it to all incoming space rocks, and the NASA monitoring program has spotted more than 300 meteor strikes that reached its surface since 2005.