NELIOTA: New results and updated statistics after 6.5 years of lunar impact flashes monitoring

A. Liakos, A. Z. Bonanos, E. M. Xilouris, D. Koschny, I. Bellas-Velidis, P. Boumis, A. Maroussis, R. Moissl


We present results of the Near-Earth objects Lunar Impacts and Optical TrAnsients (NELIOTA) campaign for lunar impact flashes observed with the 1.2 m Kryoneri telescope. From August 2019 to August 2023, we report 113 validated and 70 suspected flashes. For the validated flashes, we calculate the physical parameters (masses, radii) of the corresponding projectiles, the temperatures developed during the impacts, and the expected crater sizes. For the multiframe flashes, we present light curves and thermal evolution plots. Using the whole sample of NELIOTA that encompasses 192 validated flashes in total from 2017, the statistics of the physical parameters of the meteoroids, the peak temperatures of the impacts, and the expected crater sizes has been updated. Using this large sample, empirical relations correlating the luminous energies per photometric band were derived and used to roughly estimate the parameters of 92 suspected flashes of the NELIOTA archive. For a typical value of the luminous efficiency, we found that the majority (>75%) of the impacting meteoroids have masses between 1 and 200 g, radii between 0.5 and 3 cm and produced craters up to 3.5 m. 85% of the peak temperatures of the impacts range between 2000 and 4500 K. Statistics regarding the magnitude decline and the cooling rates of the multiframe flashes are also presented. The recalculation of the appearance frequency of meteoroids (lying within the aforementioned ranges of physical parameters) on the Moon yields that the total lunar surface is bombarded with 7.4 sporadic meteoroids per hour and up to 12.6 meteoroids per hour when the Earth-Moon system passes through a strong meteoroid stream. By extrapolating these rates on Earth, the respective rates for various distances from its surface are calculated and used to estimate the probability of an impact of a meteoroid with a hypothetical infrastructure on the Moon, or with a satellite orbiting Earth for various impact surfaces and duration times of the missions.

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