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Impact! New moon craters are appearing faster than thought

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Kevin Oconnor
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A 39-foot diameter impact crater formed between Oct. 25, 2012, and April 21, 2013, and was discovered in a before-and-after image created from two Narrow Angle Camera NAC images.

New craters are forming on the surface of the moon more frequently than scientists had predicted, a new study has found.

The moon is dotted with a vast number of craters, some billions of years old.

Because the moon has no atmosphere, falling space rocks don't burn up like they do on Earth, which leaves the moon's surface vulnerable to a constant stream of cosmic impacts that gradually churn the top layer of material on its surface.

Previous studies of lunar craters shed light on how they formed and on the past rate of cratering, which in turn yielded insights on the age of various features of the moon's surface.

However, less was known about the contemporary rate of lunar crater formation, which could give insight on the risk of bombardment that any missions to the moon might face.

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Kevin Oconnor
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