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: Planet formation relied on sweeping up of small glassy beads, new model suggests

Related Stories

Mexico boosts protection of near-extinct porpoise

3 hours ago

Mexico is greatly expanding a protected area of the Gulf of California and boosting navy patrols in an effort to save the vaquita marina, a small porpoise facing imminent extinction.

Court monitor: Apple antitrust cooperation has 'declined'

3 hours ago

Apple Inc.'s cooperation with efforts to improve its compliance with antitrust laws after a federal judge concluded it colluded with electronic book publishers to raise prices five years ago took on an "adversarial tone" ...

SEC questions LA Unified on use of bonds for iPad project

3 hours ago

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently questioned Los Angeles Unified School District officials as part of informal inquiry into whether they properly used bond funds for a beleaguered $1.3 billion project to provide ...

Recommended for you

White dwarf may have shredded passing planet

Apr 17, 2015

The destruction of a planet may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of astronomers has found evidence that this may have happened in an ancient cluster of stars at the edge of the Milky Way ...

Giant galaxies die from the inside out

Apr 16, 2015

A major astrophysical mystery has centred on how massive, quiescent elliptical galaxies, common in the modern Universe, quenched their once furious rates of star formation. Such colossal galaxies, often also ...

Protosuns teeming with prebiotic molecules

Apr 16, 2015

Complex organic molecules such as formamide, from which sugars, amino acids and even nucleic acids essential for life can be made, already appear in the regions where stars similar to our Sun are born. Astrophysicists ...

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.