The Moon: Face

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According to an ancient Turkish myth, the moon is the wife of the sun and the spots on the moon’s face come from when the sun threw mud at it. Astronomers still appreciate the magic and the mystery of the moon as much as any of us, but they see the moon’s face as a record of its history. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“The dark areas are circular, they are impact basins that were created by objects hundreds of kilometers across, crashing into the moon after it had separated from the earth and become a homogeneous body on it’s own.”

Geoff Chester is an astronomer and public affairs officer with the U.S. Naval Observatory.

“Now the highland areas are kind of like the original surface of the moon but if you look at them through a telescope, they have just been battered by hundreds of thousands of smaller objects. It is a very impressive record of the early history of the formation of our solar system.”

Scientists have been able to geologically date much of the moon’s surface, and
they say that the last of its large craters was probably carved out about a hundred million years ago. But there’s tantalizing evidence that one of the moon’s craters is much younger. People living in England in the 12th century may have actually witnessed its formation.

“There’s an account by some monks in Canterbury around the year 1138 which record a very unusual appearance of the moon. Black smoke and flames, and the description of the location of this particular event happens to coincide with an area where there happens to be a very fresh-looking 25-kilometer diameter impact crater. They may have seen the creation of that, but until we actually go there and sample the material in that crater we cannot tell for sure how old it is.”

If you’d like to hear about our new Pulse of the Planet CD, please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

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The Moon: Face

Who is that man on the moon? If you're a scientist, that face isn't much of a mystery -- it's a record of the moon's history.
Air Date:08/22/2011
Scientist:
Transcript:

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According to an ancient Turkish myth, the moon is the wife of the sun and the spots on the moon's face come from when the sun threw mud at it. Astronomers still appreciate the magic and the mystery of the moon as much as any of us, but they see the moon's face as a record of its history. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"The dark areas are circular, they are impact basins that were created by objects hundreds of kilometers across, crashing into the moon after it had separated from the earth and become a homogeneous body on it's own."

Geoff Chester is an astronomer and public affairs officer with the U.S. Naval Observatory.

"Now the highland areas are kind of like the original surface of the moon but if you look at them through a telescope, they have just been battered by hundreds of thousands of smaller objects. It is a very impressive record of the early history of the formation of our solar system."

Scientists have been able to geologically date much of the moon's surface, and
they say that the last of its large craters was probably carved out about a hundred million years ago. But there's tantalizing evidence that one of the moon's craters is much younger. People living in England in the 12th century may have actually witnessed its formation.

"There's an account by some monks in Canterbury around the year 1138 which record a very unusual appearance of the moon. Black smoke and flames, and the description of the location of this particular event happens to coincide with an area where there happens to be a very fresh-looking 25-kilometer diameter impact crater. They may have seen the creation of that, but until we actually go there and sample the material in that crater we cannot tell for sure how old it is."

If you'd like to hear about our new Pulse of the Planet CD, please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.

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