DPS 2001 meeting, November 2001
Session 10. Worlds Inside 1 AU Posters
Displayed, 9:00am Tuesday - 3:00pm Saturday, Highlighted, Tuesday, November 27, 2001, 5:00-7:00pm, French Market Exhibit Hall

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[10.04] Identifcation of the lunar flash of 1953 with a fresh crater on the Moon's surface

L. Johnson (Pomona College), B. J. Buratti (Pomona College and JPL)

The 1953 photograph of a flash on the Moon by an amateur astronomer (Stuart, 1956) is the only unambiguous record of the rare crash of an asteroid-sized body onto the lunar surface. We estimate that this event would have made a 1-2 km sized crater, and that the radius of the impacting body was about 170 m. Such an event would cause destruction of a large metropolitan-sized area if it occurred on Earth. Although not detectable with ground-based telescopes, this crater should be visible on space-based images of the Moon obtained by the Lunar Orbiter and Clementine missions. A search of images from the Clementine mission reveals a 2-km crater with a high-albedo, blue, fresh-appearing ejecta blanket at the location of the flash. The crater is not clearly visible on Lunar Orbiter images of the impact region. (The size may be substantially overestimated, as the ejecta blanket cannot be distinguished from the crater itself). The identification of this crater offers an opportunity to investigate subsurface unaltered lunar soils. Our results suggest that the effects of space weathering occur rapidly.

Funded by NASA and NSF

Stuart, L. (1956). The Strolling Astronomer. Vol 10, 42-43.

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