In an exciting discovery, Japanese astronomer Daichi Fujii managed to capture the impact of a meteorite hitting the Moon on the night of February 23. Fujii, who is the curator of the Hiratsuka City Museum, recorded the event using cameras specially installed to observe the Moon.
The impact flash was recorded at 20:14:30.8 Japan Standard Time (7:14 a.m. EST, or 1114 GMT) and the meteorite is believed to have impacted near the Ideler L crater, northwest of the Pitiscus crater. The impact created a hole about a dozen meters in diameter that could be photographed in the future by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Meteorites travel at an average speed of 48,280 km/h or 13.4 km/s, and their impacts generate intense heat and craters. Although meteors collide with the Earth every day, most of them burn up completely upon contact with the atmosphere. In contrast, the Moon has a very tenuous exosphere, which means that meteors that would not reach the Earth’s surface often impact the Moon creating its cratered appearance.
Observing these impacts has important scientific value as it helps scientists know the rate of impacts on the lunar surface. This is especially relevant now that we are preparing to send astronauts to the Moon.
Fujii’s discovery is a further demonstration of the value of space exploration and scientific research in understanding our universe. Increasing advances in observational and measurement technology is enabling us to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding of outer space and its mysteries. Without a doubt, this is an exciting time for astronomy and space exploration.