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Centre for astrophysics and planetary science

Impacts on the Moon

This page provides links to a set of videos, poster, paper about impacts on the Moon.

Impact Moon

The European Space Agency’s Smart 1 mission to the Moon ended its life in 2006 via a gradual descent of its orbit, which meant it hit the lunar surface at a very shallow angle at a speed of around 2 km s-1. To try to see what the resulting impact crater might look like, here at Kent we fired small 1.5 mm sized projectiles onto a rocky target covered with sand. All this at shallow angles and speeds of around 2 km s-1.

The paper which described this work appeared in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, and is available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/maps.12479 and is free to download.

The possible Smart 1 impact site on the Moon was eventually found in 2019 by Stooke, 2019.

Videos and a poster describing what we are did are available to view here:

A pdf version of the poster is available here.

An impact light flash which occurs when a high speed projectile hits a target (a small cement sphere). Such flashes due to impacts on the moon can be seen here on Earth.

Movie 1: Moon Impact Front View

Movie 2: Moon Impact Side View

Movie 3: Moon Impact Inclined View

For more information contact Prof. Mark Burchell (M.J.Burchell[at]kent.ac.uk).