NASA telescope captures bright blast after meteorite hits moon
Despite the meteor’s tiny proportions – about the size of a small boulder and the weight of an average 10-year-old boy – the impact damage was colossal and the explosion shone with the brightness of a magnitude 4 star.
The moon was struck by a meteor creating the an explosion visible with the naked eye
Experts fear the death toll would run into thousands.
Unlike the Moon the Earth has a protective atmosphere meaning most space debris burns up before it can impact.
But bigger meteors sometimes get through – most recently at Chelyabinsk in Russia where a 20 metre asteroid travelling at 43,000 mph breached the atmosphere and exploded with the power of 33 Hiroshimas.
It exploded in a flash 10 times as bright as anything we’ve seen before
A spokesman for respected science website Science.com said: “For the past eight years NASA has been monitoring the Moon for signs of explosions caused by meteors.
“They’ve just seen the biggest explosion in the history of the programme.
The explosive power of the meteor was the equivalent of ten cruise missiles
The Chelyabinsk meteor is the largest known natural object to have entered Earth’s atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska meteor, which destroyed a wide, remote, forested, and very sparsely populated area of Siberia.
NASA is working in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA) on the craft and hope to have the first space tests underway by 2022 where it will attempt to move a “non-threatening” asteroid.
Experts fear a similar impact on earth could cause tens of thousands of deaths
“This approval step advances the project toward an historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid.”