Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 18:42 EDT

Latest Bill Cooke Stories

2006-12-08 09:45:00

Meteoroids are smashing into the Moon a lot more often than anyone expected. That's the tentative conclusion of Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, after his team observed two Leonids hitting the Moon on Nov. 17, 2006. "We've now seen 11 and possibly 12 lunar impacts since we started monitoring the Moon one year ago," says Cooke. "That's about four times more hits than our computer models predicted." If correct, this conclusion could influence planning for future moon...

2006-09-01 11:50:00

On July 14, 1965, Mariner 4 swooped over Mars. It was a moment of high drama. Six other probes had already tried to reach Mars and failed--most malfunctioning before they even left Earth. Since the days of H.G. Wells (The War of the Worlds, 1898), people had been hearing about life on Mars and they were ready to see the canals and cities. But the wait was becoming excruciating. With flawless precision, Mariner 4 dipped less than 10,000 km above the planet's surface and took 22 pictures. Mars...

2006-08-30 07:10:00

Amateur astronomers, grab your telescopes. A spaceship is about to crash into the Moon, and you may be able to see the impact. The spacecraft: SMART-1, a lunar orbiter belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA). The impact site: Lacus Excellentiae (The Lake of Excellence), an ancient, 100-mile wide crater in the Moon's southern hemisphere. The time to watch: Saturday, September 2nd at 10:41 p.m. PDT (Sept. 3rd, 0541 UT). Why is SMART-1 crashing? There's nothing wrong with the spacecraft,...

2006-06-17 09:45:00

There's a new crater on the Moon. It's about 14 meters wide, 3 meters deep and precisely one month, eleven days old. NASA astronomers watched it form: "On May 2, 2006, a meteoroid hit the Moon's Sea of Clouds (Mare Nubium) with 17 billion joules of kinetic energy"”that's about the same as 4 tons of TNT," says Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, AL. "The impact created a bright fireball which we video-recorded using a 10-inch telescope." Lunar...

2006-05-01 07:25:00

NASA researchers are mining old Apollo seismic data for clues to lunar meteoroid impacts Up on the Moon, the sky is falling. "Every day, more than a metric ton of meteoroids hits the Moon," says Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center's Meteoroid Environment Office. They literally fall out of the sky, in all shapes and sizes, from specks of comet dust to full-blown asteroids, traveling up to a hundred thousand mph. And when they hit, they do not disintegrate harmlessly in the...

2005-12-26 08:35:00

So you thought nothing ever happens on the moon? NASA scientists have observed an explosion on the moon. The blast, equal in energy to about 70 kg of TNT, occurred near the edge of Mare Imbrium (the Sea of Rains) on Nov. 7, 2005, when a 12-centimeter-wide meteoroid slammed into the ground traveling 27 km/s. "What a surprise," says Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) researcher Rob Suggs, who recorded the impact's flash. He and colleague Wes Swift were testing a new telescope and video camera...