Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Imbrium crater from impact observed on Earth

LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) before and after images of the same small patch of Mare Imbrium reveal the Marshall 17 March Impact Event, the first time an impact on the Moon observed on Earth in real time has been definitively identified from lunar orbit. The newly-formed crater is 18 meters in diameter [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Mark Robinson
Principal Investigator
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC)
Arizona State University

The NASA Lunar Impact Monitoring Program monitors the Moon from a dedicated telescope facility at Marshal Space Flight Center for Meteoroid Impacts. Since 2005 the Marshall group recorded over 300 flashes (assumed to be meteoroid impacts), their brightest recorded flash occurred on 17 March 2013 with coordinates 20.6°N, 336.1°E. Since then LRO passed over the flash site and the NAC imaged the surrounding area; a new 18 meter (59 feet) diameter crater was found by comparing images taken before and after the March date.

March 17 crater
Four different NAC images of crater (18 meter diameter) formed on the Moon, 17 March 2013, each scene is 560 meters wide, north is up [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
This is not the first new impact crater the LROC team has found, nor will it be the last! Hundreds of changes to the surface appear in NAC temporal pairs, the LROC team is systematically searching this growing set of before/after images and results were presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting last week, and more is coming in the near future.

Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatory (ALaMO), at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama. The facility consists of two observatory domes, a 15 meter tower with a roll-off roof and an operations center with laboratory space [NASA/MSFC].
Revisit a previous LROC post showing new craters on the Moon formed by natural processes. Also note that new craters on the Moon were also formed by spacecraft impacts (Ranger, Apollo SIV-B, GRAIL), see a summary of LROC Featured Images on this topic, HERE.

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