Using cameras set to monitor the moon, Daichi Fujii, curator of the Hiratsuka City Museum, recorded an event that occurred on February 23 at 20:14:30.8 Japan Standard Time (7:14 a.m. EST, or 1114 GMT). The event appears to be a meteorite impact, and it was located near Ideler L crater, slightly northwest of Pitiscus crater.
Meteors travel on average at around 30,000 mph (48,280 kph), or 8.3 miles per second (13.4 km/s). Their high-velocity impacts generate intense heat and create craters, while also giving out a brilliant flash of visible light. Moon impacts can be seen from Earth, as captured above, if they are large enough and occur in an area during lunar nighttime facing Earth.
The newly created crater could be around a dozen meters (39 feet) in diameter and may eventually be imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter or India’s Chandrayaan 2 lunar probe, Fujii said.
Although Earth experiences daily meteor collisions, most of them burn up entirely on contact with the atmosphere. However, due to the moon’s thin exosphere, meteors that cannot reach the Earth’s surface usually impact the moon, creating the well-known appearance of craters. These rocks continually bombard the lunar surface, sometimes breaking it down to fine particles or lunar soil.
Capturing these events has scientific value and helps scientists learn about the frequency of impacts on the lunar surface. This knowledge is particularly relevant as the United States and other countries prepare to send astronauts to the moon.