Nasa scientists have spotted a new crater being blasted out of the surface of the Moon.
They videoed a bright flash as a space rock smashed into the region called Mare Nubium – the Sea of Clouds.
The meteor from deep space exploded with the force of four tons of TNT and created a crater around 14 yards wide and three yards deep. But the stone that caused it was probably only around 10 inches across, experts estimate.
A student, Nick Hollon, working with Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Centre at Huntsville, Alabama, spotted the flash while making a video of the Moon through a 10-inch telescope. Nasa want to find out more about lunar impacts to check the level of danger that astronauts will face when they return as part of President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration.
Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, estimates that more than a ton of meteoroids hits the Moon every day. But most of it is very small in the form of comet dust. He said the rock that created the new crater only reached the ground because of the lack of a lunar atmosphere. He said: “Earth’s atmosphere protects us. A 10-inch meteoroid would disintegrate in mid-air, making a spectacular fireball in the sky but no crater.”
The impact, which you can view in the video here happened on May 2 but has only just been revealed. Cooke’s team is monitoring the dark side of the Moon to check for any more meteor impacts.