The Moon has a new crater and NASA has just released the video to prove it. It was back on March 17 that the Lunar Impact Monitoring Program detected a sudden bright flash of light comparable to a 4th magnitude star on the Moon. The flash lasted for about a second and then disappeared. Subsequent observations then spotted a new crater at the site of the March 17 flash.
The best part: you can go here to watch the time lapse! AS for specifics, the asteroid that made the 65-foot diameter crater was about 18 inches across and traveling at about 55,000mph.
As for craters themselves, they result from asteroids of varying sizes hitting the Moon's surface. Unlike the Earth, which as a thick atmosphere that causes most small asteroids to burn up (and thus produce 'shooting stars'), the Moon ha no atmosphere, which means that any incoming rock, no matter how small, will hit the surface and cause a crater. Since its inception in 2005, the Lunar Impact Monitoring Program has recorded the impact of over 300 space rocks, but the above event was the largest seen to date.
As an interesting thought, this impact could shed light on a long-standing mystery: lunar transient phenomenon (LTP).
As defined, LTP is the sudden, short-lived change in lunar appearance in terms of either light and/or color. Possible explanations include volcanoes, gas emissions, and most probably, lunar impacts. Additionally, the Apollo astronauts even reported seeing areas of the lunar surface that appeared to be brighter than the surrounding areas. Impact events can be used to explain this, as well. How? According to experts, new lunar impacts appear highly reflective, a characteristic that disappears thanks to tens of millions of years of exposure to solar radiation and cosmic rays. The implication: the astronauts could have seen debris from comparatively recent lunar impacts during their exploration.
As always, would-be Moon watchers in the Cleveland area should be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecast and, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you.
Hit the 'subscribe' button for automatic email updates when I write something new!