Watch Rogue Meteoroids Pummel the Moon's Surface in Mesmerizing Video
Just how rare is this occurrence, anyway?
Ever seen a meteoroid hit the moon? Almost definitely not in person, but have you ever seen video of such space phenomena? If you haven’t, thanks to something called the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System, now you can.
The system, also known as MIDAS, captured the moments when two rogue meteoroids hit the moon’s surface on July 17 and 18. That’s right; this happened twice over two different days, with the meteoroids striking two different locations on the lunar surface.
The MIDAS team monitors the “night side” of the Moon using telescopes and high-sensitivity CCD video cameras, according to the University of Huelva website, where MIDAS researcher Jose Maria Madiedo works. And the team just happened to capture some fascinating video of these meteoroids making contact with the moon last month.
The meteoroids slammed into the moon about 24 hours apart from each other, CNET reported Friday, and were each about the size of walnuts. But they still showed up on in the MIDAS video, which you can see above.
Both impacts produced flashes of light in different regions of the moon. MIDAS watches the “dark face” of the moon for instances like this, according to the European Space Agency, and uses a series of telescopes and three astronomical observatories across Spain to capture these moments and share them with the world.
“By studying meteoroids on the Moon we can determine how many rocks impact it and how often,” Madiedo told the European Space Agency, “and from this we can infer the chance of impacts on Earth.”
The meteoroids can likely be traced to the Alpha Capricornids meteor shower, CNET reported. And that shower was the result of Earth and the Moon passing through the tail of comet 169P/NEAT, the ESA notes.
In 2016, NASA noted that the moon actually experiences a heavier bombardment from small meteoroids than models had previously predicted. In fact, Robert Frost, an Instructor and Flight Controller in the Flight Operations Directorate at NASA, wrote on Quora in 2016 that the moon is hit by about 2800 kg of meteor material every day.
So it’s not exactly a rare phenomenon for this meeting between two meteoroids and the moon to occur. But it’s still pretty cool to witness nonetheless.