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.Know More
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.Learn more about Our Moon
The moon's circular craters are the result of flying objects such as meteorites crashing into the moon's surface. This contact is known as an impact, and the resulting crater is officially known as an impact crater.Full Answer >
Thanks to six moon landings, hundreds of objects are still scattered across the surface of the moon: golf balls, boots, cameras, javelins, sculptures, photographs, and a golden olive branch. Because the moon doesn't have an atmosphere, most of these objects will remain preserved until something impacts that area of the moon.Full Answer >
Sunlight reflects off the moon's surface, and it is seen at different angles from the Earth as the moon moves in orbit around the planet. These changes are known as lunar phases, which occur in a cycle that repeats every 29.5 days.Full Answer >
Moon rocks, collected from the surface of the Earth's only natural satellite, are mainly composed of oxygen, silicon, magnesium, iron, calcium and aluminum, in varying amounts. Other trace elements are also present depending on the region of the moon from which the sample was collected.Full Answer >