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The Galileo spacecraft obtained this image of the crescent moon. The smallest features visible are 8 kilometers (5 miles) in size.
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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, and Leon Stuart, an amateur astronomer, took a photograph that provides the only definite evidence of the impact. At that time, our telescopes were not powerful enough to see the crater formed by the impact, but now researchers, who are examining images from orbiting spacecraft, have found a small new crater in the same position as the flash.

Based on the 1953 photograph of the impact, the object that struck the Moon was probably about 300 meters across and its impact would have made a crater up to 2 km in size according to Dr. Bonnie Buratti of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Dr. Lane Johnson of Pomona College. If the object had struck the Earth instead of the Moon, it would have destroyed an area the size of a large city.

Images of the Moon from the Clementine mission show a 2-km-wide crater 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.

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