A bouncing moon boulder

February 8, 2012 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
A large boulder stopped on its way down a sloping wall in the central peak of Schiller crater on the Moon. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

One solitary boulder on the Moon apparently decided to take a little journey. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera captured the track of a bouncing, rolling 9-meter boulder that used to sit along the rim of a crater. From the pristine nature of the tracks, it might seem that the rock may have taken its trip just recently. But with the high resolution capability of the LROC, scientists can see that a few tiny craters are superimposed among the track and therefore post-date the time the boulder traveled. Scientists estimate this track was created 50-100 million years ago.

“Though long ago to humans, however, this boulder’s journey was made in geologically recent times,” wrote lunar scientist James Ashley on the LROC website. “Studies suggest that regolith development from micrometeorite impacts will erase tracks like these over time intervals of tens of millions of years… Eventually its track will be erased completely.”

What might have caused the rock to roll so recently? Ashley said perhaps this boulder was sent on its way by ground-shaking caused by the violence of a nearby impact. Perhaps a direct hit by a small meteoroid did the job.

Explore further: Scientist to Work With NASA's Lunar Orbiter

Related Stories

Scientist to Work With NASA's Lunar Orbiter

January 25, 2005

NASA has selected Mark S. Robinson, research associate professor of geological sciences in Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, as one of six scientists to provide instrumentation and associated ...

Sunrise view of Tycho crater's peak

June 30, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- On June 10, 2011, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft angled its orbit 65° to the west, allowing the LRO Camera NACs to capture a dramatic sunrise view of Tycho crater.

New boulder frog discovered

October 7, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have discovered two new species of boulder-dwelling frogs, hidden in remote areas of rainforest in north-east Queensland.

LRO lets you stand on the rim of Aristarchus crater

December 30, 2011

Have you ever you looked up at the bright, cavernous Aristarchus Crater on the Moon through a telescope or binoculars and wondered what it would be like to stand on the rim and peer inside? Spectacular new views from the ...

Recommended for you

NASA selects investigations for future key planetary mission

October 1, 2015

NASA has selected five science investigations for refinement during the next year as a first step in choosing one or two missions for flight opportunities as early as 2020. Three of those chosen have ties to NASA's Jet Propulsion ...

Dawn team shares new maps and insights about Ceres

October 1, 2015

Mysteries and insights about Ceres are being discussed this week at the European Planetary Science Conference in Nantes, France. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is providing scientists with tantalizing views and other data about the ...


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.