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article imageLargest meteor impact ever recorded hits our moon

By Karen Graham     Feb 25, 2014 in Science
Our moon has many impact craters, with an estimated 300,000 of them on the near side alone. Most of these craters were formed millenniums ago. Many of the craters are over 1Km. wide, with ejecta deposits leaving broad rings around the initial impacts.
Amazingly, Spanish astronomers were fortunate to record a record-breaking lunar impact. The meteor they spotted had a mass of about half a ton, the size of a small compact car and its impact was comparable to the explosion of 15 tons of TNT.
The impact, which occurred on September 11, 2013, was reported in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Professor Jose Madiedo, of the University of Huelva in south-western Spain said, "This is the largest, brightest impact we have ever observed on the Moon."
"Usually lunar impacts have a very short duration - just a fraction of a second. But the impact we detected lasted over eight seconds. It was almost as bright as the Pole Star, which makes it the brightest impact event that we have recorded from Earth," said Madiedo.
The team who recorded the event said the collision was so bright, the intensity of the flash generated would have been seen from earth. The meteor strike was spotted by the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (Midas) of telescopes, located in Southern Spain.
To anyone who happened to be outside at 8:07 GMT looking up at the moon on Sept. 11, 2013, weather permitting, they would have seen a flash of bright light, lasting about eight seconds appear on the surface of the moon. Its brightness would have been equal to the light of the North star.
The meteor hit the moon's surface in a lunar basin known as Mare Nubium, at a speed exceeding 37,900 mph. The crater gouged out of the lunar surface is roughly 131 feet wide. Because the moon has no atmosphere, it is very vulnerable to meteor strikes. On earth, our atmosphere protects us, and this particular meteor would have burned up, creating a fireball display in the skies.
View of Aitken crater on the Moon from Apollo 17. Jan. 20  2006
View of Aitken crater on the Moon from Apollo 17. Jan. 20, 2006
This meteor strike beats the one recorded by NASA on March 17, 2013. That one was traveling at a speed of 56,000 mph and left a crater 65 feet in diameter. Neither of these craters can compare to an asteroid that hit the moon around 4.5 billion years ago. That space rock created a crater 2,500-kilometer-wide, known today as the South Pole-Aitken Basin.
More about meteor impact, Astronomers, Spanish, lunar impact, recorded event
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