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NASA’s Moon Orbiter Camera Is A Meteoroid Hit Survivor

First Posted: May 30, 2017 06:29 AM EDT

The camera system aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) happens to be a meteoroid hit survivor. The American space agency recently announced that a tiny meteoroid traveling much faster than a speeding bullet hit the camera system in 2014. However, the system survived unscathed and no harm was caused to the spacecraft.

According to Science Daily, experts only recently became aware of the collision event between the meteorite and the spacecraft after analyzing a newly released photograph from LRO. The image looked like a very jittery camera captured it. The analysis revealed that this was because the photo was taken at the same time that a meteoroid hit the LRO.

"The meteoroid was traveling much faster than a speeding bullet," LRO camera system’s principal investigator, Mark Robinson said, as reported by NASA. "In this case, [the LRO camera] did not dodge a speeding bullet, but rather survived a speeding bullet!"

Initially, scientists were perplexed by the quality of the photo as the LRO usually sends back beautifully clear images of the Moon’s surface. The photo featured a very smeared right-to-left band that indicated that the camera was jerked while scanning the surface of the Moon.

The experts ruled out other probable causes, such as internal vibrations, on seeing the wobbly images because the blurring effect did not appear in the photos taken at the same time by the other cameras on board the LRO. Incidentally, the LRO Camera (LROC) system consists of three cameras that include two narrow-angle cameras (NACs).

The research team concluded that the camera’s collision with a small meteoroid led to the blurry image. Further study and analysis helped the scientists to know that the space rock must have been about 0.03 inch and was traveling at a velocity of about 4.3 miles (6.9 kilometers) per second with the density of 0.09 lb per cubic inch. The collision took place on Oct. 13, 2014. However, the event did not interrupt the mission in any way.

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