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Moon explosion visible from Earth

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(CNN) — A meteoroid struck the surface of the moon recently, causing an explosion that was visible on Earth without the aid of a telescope, NASA reported Friday. But don’t be alarmed if you didn’t see it; it only lasted about a second.

“It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we’ve ever seen before,” said Bill Cooke, of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.

NASA astronomers have been monitoring the moon for the past eight years, looking for explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. It’s part of a program to find new fields of space debris that could hit Earth. NASA says it sees hundreds of detectable lunar meteoroid impacts a year.

None however can match the size of the explosion they say they saw March 17. NASA says the meteoroid was about 40 kilograms and less than a meter wide, and it hit the moon’s surface at 56,000 mph. It glowed like a 4th magnitude star, NASA says, thanks to an explosion equivalent to 5 tons of TNT.

“It jumped right out at me, it was so bright,” said Ron Suggs of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

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Cooke says Earth was pelted by meteoroids at about the same time, but they hit the moon because it has no atmosphere to protect it.

“We’ll be keeping an eye out for signs of a repeat performance next year when the Earth-moon system passes through the same region of space,” Cooke said.

If you’re wondering how there can be an explosion on the moon, without oxygen, NASA has the answer for you. It says the flash of light comes not from any type of combustion — as we typically think of explosions — but rather by the glowing molten rock at the impact site.



  • Ummm

    "Recently"? When exactly did it happen? When something like this happens, the date is one of the first things reported…..


    How can there be an explosion on the moon??? NO OXYGEN!!!!!!!!!
    You're telling me the light from the explosion wasn't from impact, but from glowing molten rock??
    Something smells really rotten here.

    • ron

      there is oxygen, however itis in a different form oh maybe you didnt know that the sun that warms our planet is just a ball of fire, molten rock, omg …i think the rotten smell is goming from other local sources. live long and prosper

    • Clive

      obviously physics was never your strong point nor most of the others who commented on your post. No there is no oxygen on the moon, so there was no combustion in the way that you and I know it here……but on the moon and on other places where there is no atmosphere, a high impact event of this magnitude, 56000 mph was the figured quoted, there is an immense exchange of energy when an object is brought to an instant halt – like this meteorite, the main element of which is heat, the the tune of several thousand degrees which would have changed the surrounding regolith (moon surface) into molten rock in an instant – which is what was seen from Earth

      • Nope

        Sorry, but even though most of what you're saying is true, or true by NASA standards, even the impact of the crash turning the moon into instant molten rock would NOT be visible from earth. Light that bright requires combustion force, which we've been told isn't possible on the moon's surface.

  • Cody

    why did 'nt the Apollo missions get hit by any meteors? assuming that they where actually there on the moon.

  • Weird

    Something weird about this. Glowing molten rock wouldn't flash like that. It would linger more, like a volcano. Why no straight answers, NASA? You're obviously hiding something.

  • Karen

    There will be a lot of things happening with the stars, sun and moon in the future according to the Bible. NASA has predicted four blood moons in 2014-2015 which coincide with the Bible that have to do with nations coming up against Israel. The Bible also speaks of stars falling from the heavens and we're seeing that too.

  • donald

    that was an alien spacecraft leaving from within. The moon is there station and they're always watchin us, ya know?

  • Hmmm

    Remember when NASA "bombed" the moon a few years ago? They were testing a space based weapon. This was a followup test. A small meteor (amazing how they knew the size…) would not have created an explosion that big no matter how fast it was going. The scale of the moon is way off for a meteor that size to create an explosion like that.


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