The Explosion On The Moon

moon impact frames

NASA scientists have just seen the largest explosion on the Moon since they started looking for them eight years ago! At 4th magnitude brightness, an explosion earlier today (UTC) would have been visible to the naked eye.

It’s obvious the Moon has been pelted with meteorites and other space junk over the uncounted millenium. Most of us think of those events in the past, not present. That’s wrong.

More objects hit the Earth than Moon because of our much greater size and gravity. Most burn up in our atmosphere. The Moon has no atmosphere. Anything plunging to its surface will make it down intact.

Ron Suggs, an analyst at the Marshall Space Flight Center, was the first to notice the impact in a digital video recorded by one of the monitoring program’s 14-inch telescopes. “It jumped right out at me, it was so bright,” he recalls.

The 40 kg meteoroid measuring 0.3 to 0.4 meters wide hit the Moon traveling 56,000 mph. The resulting explosion packed as much punch as 5 tons of TNT.

For the metrically challenged, that around 90 pounds and a foot wide. In other words, a good sized rock. NASA will now look closely at the impact site, hoping to see a new crater 50 or 60 feet across.

At the same time the Moon was getting hit, an ‘all-sky’ camera in Ontario noted a cluster a deep-penetrating atmospheric hits here on Earth. The paths line up. They are all most likely from the same source.

IDL TIFF fileThat’s not unexpected. Meteor showers, like Perseids or Orionids, which never make it to the Earth’s surface, often hit the Moon too. The image on the left shows impacts from the last eight yeas.

This is another impediment to sending men back to the Moon. Space is incredibly perilous.