Q:

How did the lunar maria form?

A:

Scientists believe that lunar maria formed from lava flows caused when the surface of the moon was disrupted by the impacts of gigantic meteors and comets. Maria is the plural of "mare," which is Latin for sea. One of the most famous of the lunar maria is the Sea of Tranquility, which was the site of the first moon landing.

If a large enough object struck the moon, it may have actually cracked the surface, causing magma to bubble up from the mantle and spread out into the surrounding moonscape and into the impact crater itself, then cooling into a volcanic rock called basalt. The objects that impacted the moon had to be very large. Some maria on the moon are over 621 miles across; scientists believe that it takes an object about one-tenth that size to create such a large feature.

Maria are often darker than the surrounding landscape, and the youngest ones are smooth and nearly devoid of impact craters. Meteors and other debris that struck the moon were common when the moon and the solar system were first forming, but as the solar system aged and became more settled, the number of impacts decreased. The rocks found in the lunar maria are estimated to be about 3.8 billion years old.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    What color is the moon?

    A:

    The surface of the moon is generally a light gray color, although there are parts of the moon that are made up of dark gray rocks. The moon has a different appearance from the surface, from space and from the Earth.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why does the moon shine?

    A:

    The moon appears to shine because its surface reflects sunlight. Light from the sun travels through space to reach the Earth-moon system just over eight minutes after it is emitted. Some of this light falls on the surface of the moon where, according to Universe Today, 12 percent of it is reflected back into space.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are lunar features?

    A:

    Lunar features are the physical characteristics present on the moon, such as the craters, maria and highlands. The maria are the dark, flat plains on the moon whereas the highlands are raised areas on the surface of the moon. These features are the result of the moon being hit by space rocks, asteroids and comets.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How long is the lunar cycle?

    A:

    The lunar cycle lasts slightly over 27 Earth days, or the same amount of time it takes the moon to complete one orbit around the Earth and complete one lunar day. The phases of the lunar cycle change based upon the moon's location along its orbit.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore