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Moons of our Solar System
Moons of our Solar System

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3 Lots of little impacts

You might think that craters on the Moon are all pretty old, but you’d be wrong. The craters that are big enough to see through a telescope are old, but the Moon is being hit by cosmic debris all the time. With no atmosphere to protect it, even small chunks of rock and ice strike the surface with undiminished speed. When that happens, there is a brief flash of light as the energy of the impact gets turned into heat.

This is an image of impact candidates detected on the Moon 2005–2013.
Figure 35 Impact candidates detected on the Moon 2005–2013.

This image shows the locations of hundreds of meteoroid impacts detected since 2005 by a NASA-led campaign using telescope cameras. One of the brightest flashes and therefore one of biggest impacts was on 17 March 2013 (the red square above), as you will see next.

If you wanted to look into this further, you might find the following link of interest: Detection of new craters on images. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] 222 new craters (10 m to 43 m in size) found by comparing high-resolution images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Short article and animation.