Moon Takes A Hit From An Asteroid
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
MIDAS is a set of telescopes located in Seville, Spain that are able to scan the Moon for events like this. Astronomers from the University of Huelva in southwestern Spain used footage of an asteroid impact to show the moon being struck by a space rock. MIDAS consists of a Watec 902H Ultimate CCD video camera, a new 40-cm telescope and GPS time inserters to help timestamp each video taken.
The video shows a broad-look of the lunar surface, and the impact is simply a bright white circle that appears towards the bottom of the screen. The researchers said the brightness of the explosion combined with the typical impact speed leads them to believe that the asteroid was about 2- to 4.5-feet across. They also said the space rock had a mass of about 1,000 pounds or half a ton.
The amazing part of the video is the system used to help catch the “moon flash” as they are calling it.
“We are operating a system that monitors the night side of the Moon in order to detect flashes produced by the collision of meteoroids on the lunar surface. A software package (MIDAS) has been developed to automatically identify and analyze these flashes,” the team wrote.
The software is essentially used to automatically identify impact candidates by using several algorithms. They said that new algorithms are under development in order to increase the efficiency of the software.
“During the detection process a database with potential impact candidates is created for every telescope,” the team wrote. “These databases are automatically compared to establish which events are produced by the impact of meteoroids and which of them are related to other phenomena.”
The researchers said they expect that MIDAS will be used to help successfully identify impact flashes more efficiently in the future.