If you observe the lunar surface in slow-motion, you’d also see some mysterious flashes of light coming from the Moon once every few hours. Before you think extraterrestrials generate these lights, I have to tell you that, in reality, those flashes are nothing than normal. Ever since the first observations of the lunar surface, astronomers have learned that the craters of the Moon are the consequence of frequent meteor and asteroid impacts.
Scientists called those flashes of light “transient lunar phenomena” because, although they are ubiquitous, they only last for a few fractions of a second which means that those light bursts are invisible when looking at the Moon through a telescope, for example.
As I’ve already mentioned, you would see these flashes of light coming from the Moon, only if you would observe the lunar surface in slow-motion. And that’s achievable through the ESA’s NEO Lunar Impacts and Optical TrAnsients (NELIOTA) project which became operational in 2015.
NELIOTA Studies The Flashes of Light That Are Coming From The Moon Once Every Few Hours
The purpose of NELIOTA is to examine those flashes of light caused by meteor and asteroid impacts to the lunar surface to find out more about the distribution of the so-called near-Earth objects and to estimate if one of those space rocks is of higher risks for Earth.
According to the results of the long observational campaign that NELIOTA started in February 2017, and which should last for 22 months, there are eight flashes of light on the Moon per hour. However, since February 2017 until now, NELIOTA has only managed to gather a total of 90 hours of continuous observation of the lunar surface. During those 90 hours, 55 lunar impact events occurred.
However, the scientists plan to expand NELIOTA project to 2021, and they hope they’ll get additional data to estimate the frequency of meteor and asteroid impacts on the Moon better.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.