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The Moon Geology, Exploration, Origin
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Slide 1

Solar System Planets: The Earth + Moon

Solar System Planets: The Earth + Moon

Moon

- Atmosphere

- Surface/Geological Features/Moon Rocks

- Interior

- Origin

II. Mercury

- Basic Facts

- Exploration

- Cratering

Slide 2

The Moon has no atmosphere

The Moon has no atmosphere

allows us to see the surface with fine detail

escape speed is too low on the Moon

- all gas molecules can escape!

no atmospheric pressure means that water can not exist in liquid form

- only in solid or vapor

temperature variations extreme!

- day T = 403 K = 266 F

- night T = 93 K = -292 F

- day/night are each 2 weeks long!

no weathering of the surface by water, storm

no protection from high energy solar particles, cosmic rays

Slide 3

Lunar Geological Features

Lunar Geological Features

Craters

~30,000 visible with small telescopes from Earth

millions visible from lunar orbiting satellites

origin: interplanetary debris

sizes: largest 100s km

across a result of fast

moving impact rocks

of only a few kms across!

large craters often

produce central peak

craters

Slide 4

Lunar Geological Features

Lunar Geological Features

2. Lunar Maria - dark, smooth regions

first thought to actually be wet areas (before we knew Moon had no atmosphere)

now believed to be smoother, younger (fewer craters) surfaces

idea is that impacts created large basin and then lava flowed over surface

relatively low compared to highlands on moon; 2-5 km below other parts

rough mountain ranges surrounding maria suggest large impact originally

evidence for flows (lava?) along the smooth maria

Slide 5

Lunar Geological Features

Lunar Geological Features

3. Lunar Highlands

most of moon (85%) is actually covered with lighter, higher land: Highlands

predominantly on the side of the Moon facing away from Earth

roughly cratered, but no smooth lava flow maria regions

crust must be thicker in the highland areas

Slide 6

Cratering: Age of Moons Surface

Cratering: Age of Moons Surface

can use cratering patterns to determine AGE of surface

no atmosphere to protect

bombardment; no erosion by

wind/water à OLD surface

(as old as ~3 billion years)

Earths surface only a few

100 Myrs old (geological activity has re-surfaced planet)

highlands have many more craters; maria have fewer

craters à highlands older

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