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The Once and Future Moon

Melted Moon

31 Jul 2013, 18:55 UTC
Melted Moon
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Lava-like features and landforms around young lunar craters give us insight into the processes and history of the Moon.

The fresh lunar crater Giordano Bruno -- a wealth of fascinating landforms to study. (click to enlarge)
Prior to the Space Age, one of the longest running controversies in lunar science was over the origin of the Moon’s craters. Two camps emerged, one favoring an internal (volcanic) origin and the other an external (impact by solid bodies) origin. Although this debate was finally resolved in favor of impact, the argument was long and vehement, reigniting at one point during the flight of the last of the robotic precursor probes to the Moon, prior to the Apollo landings. Although the basic physics of impact were well understood by the mid-1960s, this newest argument centered around high-resolution pictures obtained by Lunar Orbiter 5 of the fresh (and therefore young) crater Tycho. These spectacular images showed a multitude of flows, smooth ponds, and fluid rock, seemingly draped over hills and hummocks (like a chocolate shell coating over scoop of ice cream).
An asteroid possesses an enormous amount of kinetic energy when it strikes a planetary body at very high speeds. On contact, the asteroid ...

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