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.
- Aerospace Engineering
- Rymd- och flygteknik