Detection of sporadic impact flashes on the Moon: Implications for the luminous efficiency of hypervelocity impacts and derived terrestrial impact rates

J. L. Ortiz, F. J. Aceituno, J. A. Quesada, J. Aceituno, M. Fernández, P. Santos-Sanz, J. M. Trigo-Rodríguez, J. Llorca, F. J. Martín-Torres, P. Montañés-Rodríguez, E. Pallé

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Abstract

We present the first redundant detection of sporadic impact flashes on the Moon from a systematic survey performed between 2001 and 2004. Our wide-field lunar monitoring allows us to estimate the impact rate of large meteoroids on the Moon as a function of the luminous energy received on Earth. It also shows that some historical well-documented mysterious lunar events fit in a clear impact context. Using these data and traditional values of the luminous efficiency for this kind of event we obtain that the impact rate on Earth of large meteoroids (0.1-10 m) would be at least one order of magnitude larger than currently thought. This discrepancy indicates that the luminous efficiency of the hypervelocity impacts is higher than 10 -2, much larger than the common belief, or the latest impact fluxes are somewhat too low, or, most likely, a combination of both. Our nominal analysis implies that on Earth, collisions of bodies with masses larger than 1 kg can be as frequent as 80,000 per year and blasts larger than 15-kton could be as frequent as one per year, but this is highly dependent on the exact choice of the luminous efficiency value. As a direct application of our results, we expect that the impact flash of the SMART-1 spacecraft should be detectable from Earth with medium-sized telescopes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
JournalIcarus (New York, N.Y. 1962)
Volume184
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2006

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Keywords

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Rymd- och flygteknik

Cite this

Ortiz, J. L., Aceituno, F. J., Quesada, J. A., Aceituno, J., Fernández, M., Santos-Sanz, P., Trigo-Rodríguez, J. M., Llorca, J., Martín-Torres, F. J., Montañés-Rodríguez, P., & Pallé, E. (2006). Detection of sporadic impact flashes on the Moon: Implications for the luminous efficiency of hypervelocity impacts and derived terrestrial impact rates. Icarus (New York, N.Y. 1962), 184(2), 319-326. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2006.05.002