The prevalence of loud action movies shows just how much humans enjoy a good explosion. You won't find many bigger than what happened on the moon in September last year. Footage of an 880-pound asteroid smashing onto the lunar surface was just released, showing a bright flash at the impact site.
The evidence was captured by telescopes as part of a moon-impact monitoring project run by astronomers at the University of Huelva in Spain. A paper about the event was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The impact makes NASA's video of a boulder-sized meteroid crashing into the moon early last year look like a hiccup in comparison. That impact rocked the lunar surface to the equivalent of about 5 tons of TNT. The more recent crash landing hit with the force of around 15 tons of TNT. Kaboom.
The asteroid landed in the Mare Nubium part of the moon while traveling at about 38,000 mph. The moon doesn't have the same sort of protective atmosphere as the Earth, so asteroids don't have the opportunity to burn up, they just go in for full-force landings.
This will come as reassuring news to anyone on Earth who happened to be looking up at the moon on September 11 at just the right time. That flash of light you saw wasn't the aliens arriving, it was just a really big asteroid.
(Via BBC News)