The Moon and Mercury: Airless Worlds

Sample Term Paper

Words 1,500

The face of the Moon turned toward earth is label the near side. It is divided into light areas called the Lunar Highlands and darker areas called Maria literally, “seas”; the singular is Mare. The Maria is lower in altitude than the Highlands, but there is no water on the Moon so they are not accurately seas. The dark material filling the Maria is, in fact, dark, solidified lava from earlier periods of lunar volcanism. Both the Maria and the Highlands exhibit large craters that are the result of meteor bang. There are much more such bang craters in the Highlands.

The side of the Moon unseen from the Earth is called the far side. One of the discoveries of the first lunar orbiters is that the far side has a very unusual appearance than the near side. In particular, there is almost no Maria on the far side, as illustrated in the image shown to the left of a portion of the far side surface. In this figure a number of meteor impact craters are noticeable.

One striking dissimilarity between the lunar surface material and that of Earth concerns the most common kinds of rocks. On the Earth, the most common rocks are sedimentary, because of atmospheric and water erosion of the surface. On the Moon, there is no atmosphere to speak of and little or no water, and the most common type of rock is igneous (“fire-formed rocks”). Geologically, the lunar surface material has the following characteristics:

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