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Craters and Maria

During the last decades, astronomy was considered to be one of the most mysterious studies in the world. The exploration of the outer space gained wide popularity among ancient scholars as well as contemporary ones. It is extremely interesting to study how the universe works and discover all possible forms of life existing there. Nevertheless, there is one of the most striking objects in the outer space that should be desperately taken into attention; it is the Moon. In comparison with the Earth, the Moon is a totally different place. The Earth is a planet that is rich in diversity and the only one where life forms exists. The Moon is lifeless with little interior heat and poor atmosphere. Nevertheless, the Moon is the easiest planet to observe. It decorates our evening skies for two successive weeks, and it is close enough for us on the astronomical scale. That is why the aim of this paper is to analyze the surface of the Moon in every possible aspect.

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Firstly, there exists a wide range of assumptions concerning the color of the Moon. The overall color is light grey together with the large flats of the darker grey maria turning up to be tinted with unclear greens and blues. Nevertheless, this is an illusion as “the real colors of the lunar surface are mostly various shades of brown, but the human eye tends to adapt its color registration so that the average color of the Moon comes out as white” (North, 2003).  What is more, during the time of the full Moon, it is extremely bright and seems to be a mass of spots and stains. The sunlight is hitting the surface from the similar direction; when we are looking on it, we do not see any relief made by the casting shadows. We can see that the surface of the Moon is quite deceptive for a human eye; that is why we have various attitudes concerning the real color of the Moon.

Secondly, the surface of the Moon is quite complicated to analyze. It can be divided into maria and the cratered regions. The maria seem to be darker than the other regions while observing from the earth. “The far side of the Moon, first seen when a Soviet spacecraft photographed it in 1959, is covered almost completely with craters” (Koupelis, 2014). Some scholars tend to think that craters were formed in the same way as the Earth – by volcanic action. In contrast, others believe that craters were made with the help of meteorites. Undoubtedly, both assumptions have the right to exist, because there are some craters formed by volcano as well as meteorite; nevertheless, those formed by meteorite predominate. They are of various sizes from a few meters in diameter to about 300 km. Moreover, apart from the size, craters vary in other respects. Some of them have highly grounded walls. The others have rather smooth floor and walls. Some have mountain surface and are covered in mare material. Speaking about the very surface of the Moon, it comprises powered lava, some pieces of glass, and small rocks. The crust of the Moon is thinner on the side that faces the Earth as compared to any other side. When the maria were formed, the lava flowed towards the side with thinner crust. That is why the side of the Moon with the bigger number of maria faces the Earth.

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In fact, the process of the formation of the mountains on the Moon is quite different in comparison with that on the Earth. Earthly mountains were formed due to the motion of the plates. The lunar mountains were formed as a result of a great amount of craters one on top of another. Mountain sets are the walls of the craters whose flat is covered with lava. The description of the surface is based on the information collected by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO): “ the highlands are anorthositic in nature, rich in calcium and aluminum, while the maria are basaltic, rich in iron and magnesium. Both types resulted from the crystallization of material from the Moon’s mantle, a partially molten layer beneath the lunar crust” (Koupelis, 2014). As we can see, the surface of the Moon is quite diverse and interesting to analyze.

Thirdly, one should realize that craters and maria are of the same nature. Maria is considered to be a “gigantic circular impact sites that have filled with volcanic magma that has long since cooled into a wide variety of basaltic rocks” (Wlasuk, 2000). Sometimes, many of them look like craters, because they often have mountainous terrain around them. The main maria are Mare Imbrium, Mare Frigoris, and Mare Serenitatis which are located in the northern part of the Moon as well as Mare Vaporum,  Mare Crisium, Mare Humorum, and Mare Nectaris. Moreover, mare area is dark, because they are overwhelmed with basalt lavas that were fluid before they were cooled flowing down and filling the lowest territory.  Around the edges of the maria, one can notice a few craters that partially survived the process of filling. Therefore, we can see that craters and maria are quite connected with each other and differ only in some aspects.

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Overall, the Moon is supposed to be one of the most important places in the whole universe. It is the only one planet which is possible to observe in the successive period of time. That is why a lot of expeditions were made in order to analyze the surface of the Moon. Thus, it consists of different types of terrain, namely mountainous floors, smooth flat, and a great variety of craters and maria. The last ones are believed to be the particular feature of the Moon. These two formations are interrelated with each other. Craters are the formations that are made with the help of lava fillings. The mountains of the Moon are formed on the basis of the craters.

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