Landscapes from the ancient and eroded lunar far side

Jul 14, 2006
Landscapes from the ancient and eroded lunar far side
This image, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows a highly eroded highland area close to the equator on the lunar far side -- the side of the Moon always facing away from Earth. AMIE obtained this image on 1 January 2006, from a distance of 1483 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 134 metres per pixel. The imaged area is centred at a latitude of 4.2º South and longitude 98.4º East. This image shows some highly eroded highland areas. Many craters are almost not longer visible, as they were destroyed by subsequent impacts. Credit: ESA/SMART-1/Space-X (Space Exploration Institute)

This image, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows a highly eroded highland area on the lunar far side, close to the equator.

AMIE obtained this image on 1 January 2006, from a distance of 1483 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 134 metres per pixel. The imaged area is centred at a latitude of 4.2º South and longitude 98.4º East. The Moon's rotation is locked to the Earth, that is the Moon always presents roughly the same side to the Earth. We call the side facing the Earth the 'near side', while the side facing away is the 'far side'.

After the first lunar missions orbited the Moon, it was discovered that unlike the near side, the far side is lacking large lava plains, the so-called 'maria'. The far side is mainly composed of heavily cratered highlands, while only very small areas contain smooth lava plains.

The reason for this difference between near side and far side is not exactly understood. Could the tidal pull of the Earth on the Moon - just like the Moon introduces tides on the water bodies of the Earth - have resulted in such a difference?

The modelling of previous topography and gravity measurements indicate that the solid crust is thinner on the near side. As a consequence, large impacts could excavate the crust more easily on the near side, and so lava had an easier way to flow out and create maria formations.

This image shows some highly eroded highland area on the lunar far side. Many craters are almost not longer visible, as they were destroyed by subsequent impacts.

Source: ESA

Explore further: Gravitational wave detection likely within five years, according to researcher

Related Stories

Architects to hatch Ecocapsule as low-energy house

12 hours ago

Where people call home depends on varied factors, from poverty level to personal philosophy to vanity to community pressure. Ecocapsule appears to be the result of special factors, a team of architects applying ...

California farmers agree to drastically cut water use

16 hours ago

California farmers who hold some of the state's strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid ...

Apple may deliver ways to rev up the iPad, report says

16 hours ago

MacRumors last month said that the latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker revealed Apple stayed on as the largest vendor in a declining tablet market. The iPad ...

Recommended for you

A bubbly cosmic celebration

12 hours ago

In the brightest region of the nebula RCW 34, gas is heated and expands through the surrounding cooler gas. Once the heated hydrogen reaches the borders of the gas cloud, it bursts outwards into the vacuum ...

Image: XMM-Newton self-portraits with planet Earth

12 hours ago

This series of images was taken 15 years ago, a couple of months after the launch of ESA's XMM-Newton space observatory. These unique views, showing parts of the spacecraft main body and solar wings, feature ...

A solar eclipse sheds light on physics

May 26, 2015

On 29 May 1919, a shadow dance took place over the Caribbean which was to make history: While the new moon covered the blazingly bright disk of the Sun, astronomers around Arthur Stanley Eddington measured ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.