On March 17, an object with the size of a small boulder hit the lunar surface and exploded in a flash of light nearly 10 times as bright as anything ever recorded before. This bright flash was recorded by researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville.

Comparing the actual size of the crater to the brightness of the flash will help validate impact models, the US space agency said in a statement. The crater itself is small, measuring 61.7 feet in diameter, but its influence is large. Debris excavated by the sudden release of energy flew for hundreds of metres. More than 200 related surface changes up to 30 km away were noted, said the report published in the journal Icarus.

The impact crater is one of thousands of craters being mapped by the instrument.The LRO team is going back to images taken in the first year or two and comparing them with recent images.Called temporal pairs, these before/after images enable the search for a range of surface changes, including new impact craters formed between the time the first and second images were acquired. Launched on June 18, 2009, LRO has collected a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge about the moon.

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