As a handy reminder that flying space debris is everywhere and rams into things all the time, an approximately 882 pound meteorite rammed into the moon recently, and astronomers caught it on video. It was the brightest known lunar impact with a glow that rivaled the North Star, and now everyone can see it.
Luckily for us on Earth, a meteorite of that size probably wouldn’t ever make it to the ground. The Earth’s atmosphere does a great job at causing space debris to break apart and burn up before it ever becomes a danger on the ground. The moon, on the other hand, doesn’t enjoy those benefits, so anything that hits the moon does so at full force.
In this case, “full force” was about as much as 15 tons of TNT, because the meteorite was moving faster than 37,900 miles per hour when it struck and likely created a crater 130 feet in diameter. For reference, the speed of sound is about 761 miles per hour, so just imagine a half-ton rock going more than fifty times that fast and try really hard not to feel like we’re in a flying shooting gallery.
Here’s a longer video by the same astronomers who caught this impact on video about lunar impacts in general for your learning needs:
The moon probably gets a lot of similar impacts, too, because NASA has estimated that about 100 tons of material from space hits our own atmosphere every day. Kind of makes you glad we’ve got that atmosphere, huh? You know, aside from that whole “breathing” thing.
- And China’s poor “Jade Rabbit” rover is up there all alone
- Our recent snow troubles look equally insane from space
- We lost an asteroid that was supposed to fly by the Earth, so that’s great