The Galileo spacecraft obtained this image of the crescent moon. The smallest features visible are 8 kilometers (5 miles) in size.
Click on image for full size
The Youngest Crater on the Moon
News story originally written on December 30, 2002
Astronomers may have found the Moon’s youngest crater. Created in 1953, the crater is believed to be the only one formed in recorded history.
In 1953, a flash was seen on the Moon, probably from the impact of a small asteroid. Leon Stuart took a photograph of the flash that provides the only definite evidence of the impact.
Based on his 1953 photograph of the impact, scientists believe that the object that struck the Moon was probably about 300 meters across and its impact would have made a crater 1-2 km in size. If the object had struck the Earth instead of the Moon, the impact would have been so great that an area the size of a large city would have been destroyed.
At the time of the impact, our telescopes were not powerful enough to see the crater but now researchers examining images from orbiting spacecraft have found a small new crater in the same position as the flash. The images show a crater 2-km-wide, or about the size of New York’s Central Park, surrounded by a bright blue blanket of fresh lunar sub-soil at the exact location of the 1953 flash.
According to scientists, this new small crater may be one of many. They believe small craters may be formed on the Moon every few decades, but this is the first one to have been found.
Last modified February 24, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials want an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting to be...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service called forests the "heart and lungs of the world." This is because forests filter air and water pollution, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and maintain...more
In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible at the same time in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see. You won't want to miss this!...more