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.Continue Reading
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
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When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first attempted to pilot their lunar lander back off the moon, a critical switch broke, forcing the astronauts to improvise a solution with a ballpoint pen. Aldrin took responsibility for breaking the switch, but he was also the one who found the solution in a ballpoint pen.Full Answer >
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 >
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 >