Making a Splash

Young lunar crater
Young lunar crater

A recent photo taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) shows a young impact crater in amazing detail, its half-mile-wide interior littered with fused piles of melted rock and encircled by a spray of dark streamers – the “splash” of melted subsurface material from the impact. Boulders and smaller chunks of rock are scattered across the surrounding lunar plain.

Impact melt
Impact melt

The low angle of the sun, illuminating the image from the right, helps bring out the relief in the scene.

Erosion by micrometeorites has not chiseled this crater down much since its violent formation, indicating its young age. Which could mean it’s “only” several million years old, but still very young compared to our venerable 4.5-billion-year-old moon.

Image: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

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