A meteor with estimated weight of 40 kg, approximately 0.3 – 0.4 meters wide, and traveling at speed of 90 123 km/h hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium on March 17, 2013. The resulting explosion packed as much punch as 5 tons of TNT.
“It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we’ve ever seen before”, said Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.
Anyone looking at the Moon at the moment of impact could have seen the explosion without a telescope. For about one second, the impact site was glowing like a 4th magnitude star.
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.
Cooke believes the lunar impact might have been part of a much larger 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,” he says. “These fireballs were traveling along nearly identical orbits between Earth and the asteroid belt.”
“My working hypothesis is that the two events are related, and that this constitutes a short duration cluster of material encountered by the Earth-Moon system,” says Cooke.This means Earth and the Moon were pelted by meteoroids at about the same time.
- NASA reports giant moon explosion after meteor slams into surface at 90,000 km/h (news.nationalpost.com)
- Bright explosion on the Moon (physicsforme.wordpress.com)
- Bright Explosion on the Moon (science.nasa.gov)
- Meteoroid impact triggers flash on moon (news.yahoo.com)
- Huge Rock Crashes Into Moon, Sparks Giant Explosion (space.com)
- NASA says meteor impact on the moon glowed like a star (upi.com)
- Bright Explosion on the Moon (yubanet.com)
- NASA Announces Brightest Lunar Explosion Ever Recorded (rinf.com)
- Bright Explosion on the Moon (VIDEO) (secretsofthefed.com)
- Big Bang: Biggest meteorite explosion rocks the Moon (rt.com)