Our Moon: Earth's only natural satellite

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The Moon has fascinated mankind throughout the ages. Discover how our Moon was formed, probably by a collision with a huge object when Earth was very young.

The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite. Our planet’s trusty companion is an airless, silent world without any signs of life. Because of its small size, the Moon’s force of attraction is too weak to hold the gases it would need to form an atmosphere. Without a layer of air, the Moon cannot trap the Sun’s heat to warm it at night or protect itself from too much heat during the day. This makes the Moon’s nights freezing cold and its days extremely hot. The lunar landscape has not changed much in thousands of years. The many craters that dot its surface are scars from meteorites that hit the Moon early in its history. The Moon’s vast plains are large craters filled with lava, which came out of cracks in its crust. Around these plains are hills and mountain ranges. In other craters, which are never lit, several probes have detected frozen water from comet impacts.

Where does the Moon come from?

By analyzing the lunar rock samples brought back by astronauts, scientists have been able to piece together the Moon’s history. According to a theory that is generally accepted today, the Moon was created as a result of a violent collision between young planet Earth and an asteroid the size of Mars. The impact hurled massive amounts of rock from Earth and from the shattered asteroid into space. Under Earth’s force of attraction, the rock fragments began to circle around our planet, eventually joining together to form the Moon.

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