NASA-funded researchers have spotted the first signs of an “exomoon,” and though they say it’s impossible to confirm its presence, the finding is a tantalizing first step toward locating others. The discovery was made by watching a chance encounter of objects in our galaxy, which can be witnessed only once.
This week Earth will overtake Mars in its orbit and will be at one of its closest positions to the planet. That will make Mars especially large and red in the night sky. Then, after midnight on April 15th a lunar eclipse will occur. (Details on the lunar eclipse in a Washington Post article.)
“As a group, volunteer counters who examined a particular patch of lunar real estate using NASA images did just as well in identifying individual craters as professional crater counters with five to 50 years of experience.”
The impact of a large object onto the lunar surface in September, 2013 produced a flash and an afterglow that was bright enough to have been seen from Earth with the unaided eye for about eight seconds. The flash was the result of the tremendous impact speed generating enough heat to melt the target and impactor
“Global map of crustal thickness of the moon derived from gravity data obtained by NASA’s GRAIL spacecraft. The lunar near side is represented on the left hemisphere. The far side is represented in the right hemisphere.”
NASA’s GRAIL mission has solved one of the mysteries of the Moon. “Why is the Moon’s gravity is uneven?… It appears that asteroid impacts have created patches of very high density rock in the subsurface.
“For the past 8 years, NASA astronomers have been monitoring the Moon for signs of explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. [...] They’ve just seen the biggest explosion in the history of the program.”
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