NASA has recorded the biggest explosion ever seen on the moon throughout its eight years of monitoring the surface.
The explosion was caused by a boulder-sized rock weighing about 88 pounds. The rock hit on March 17 at 56,000 mph and formed a crater 65 feet wide. A flash of flight resulted that would have been visible to anyone looking at the moon at the time.
"On March 17, 2013, an object about the size of a small boulder hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium," Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement. "It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we've ever seen before."
Ron Suggs, an analyst at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Al., noticed the explosion after reviewing a video of the crash.
"It jumped right out at me, it was so bright," Suggs said.
Previous records indicated that similar meteors may have been flying in the region.
"On the night of March 17, NASA and University of Western Ontario all-sky cameras picked up an unusual number of deep-penetrating meteors right here on Earth," Cooke said. "These fireballs were traveling along nearly identical orbits between Earth and the asteroid belt."
NASA's lunar impact team has identified over 300 explosions since it was founded in 2005. Part of their goal is to determine how often these types of impacts can be expected, given the possibility of future spacewalks on the moon.
"We'll be keeping an eye out for signs of a repeat performance next year when the Earth-Moon system passes through the same region of space," Cooke said. "Meanwhile, our analysis of the March 17th event continues."
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will be used to photograph the impact site.