If you have an interest in astronomy, then you might have found yourself wondering how many craters are actually on the moon. The answer is probably more than you thought.
The number of craters that are on the moon can seem like it is endless when you are looking at them through a telescope, but there is a rough final figure that will answer this question for you.
In this article, we are going to answer all of your moon crater-related questions, and hopefully, you will be satisfied with the answers that you find.
The moon is an amazing part of our universe that holds many of its own wonders, and we are going to give you all of the facts and information about the craters on the moon that we possibly can.
What Are Craters?
A crater is a circular excavated hole that is created by impact events. The circular shape is made from a material that flies out in different directions after the explosion upon impact.
It is not circular in shape due to the impactor being circular in shape. Actually, almost none of the impactors are circular in shape.
The craters are the most common surface feature on the moon, and not just Earth’s moon, but also the moon on Mercury. Both of these moons are covered in craters.
How Many Craters Are On the Moon?
The moon actually has so many craters that it is difficult to picture in your mind. There are hundreds of millions of craters that spread across the surface of the moon, but there is no way for sure to know the exact number of craters that reside there.
It can also be difficult to categorize a crater as some have merged together to create one, and it can be hard to define what a crater really is.
There is a lot of work involved in categorizing a crater, and over one hundred thousand new craters were identified in a recent study, so there could definitely be lots more craters out there that we are unaware of.
There is a grand total of 5185 craters on the moon that are more than 12 miles wide, which is huge when you really think about it. It is further estimated that around a million craters span over the distance of roughly half a mile, and there are over five hundred thousand that are larger than ten meters wide. This just goes to show that smaller craters are much more common, but there are also some huge craters on the moon.
The distance of a crater is where things can become difficult in terms of categorization. It is much easier to identify a crater than spans over miles of the moon’s surface, but much harder to identify one that is less than an inch wide.
It could be a crater, but it could also be something else, and without being able to analyze it, we can’t know for sure. This means that the number of craters on the moon could be much higher. This is why we have more accurate and precise data for the number of craters that are particularly large in size but rougher estimates for the number of smaller craters.
The number of craters that are being found and identified on the moon is increasing all the time, and they will continue to get higher when the craters shrink. So, in answer to the original question at hand, there are hundreds of millions of craters on the surface of the moon.
Why Does the Moon Have Craters?
One of the main reasons that the moon has craters is due to the fact that it gets hit by other objects.
There are many small pieces of rocks that come from outer space, and these are pieces of asteroids and such things that are moving around in the solar system. When they eventually hit the surface of the moon, there will be a large impact that can cause a crater.
Unlike other places, the moon does not have an atmosphere, which means that when there is an impact, a crater will most likely be created, even if it was only by a small rock.
The size of this crater will be much bigger than the size of the object that created it, and the rock or other object would typically be around three to five times smaller than the crater that it created. The size of the crater will greatly depend on the amount of energy that was generated.
We are actually beginning to be able to identify those craters on the moon that are much more recent from high-resolution images that have been taken of the moon. We can actually find craters that have been formed within the last twenty years.
Another way that craters have been created on the moon in the past was due to the fact that it was previously home to volcanoes. These volcanoes on the moon would have created craters, and when they erupted there would be debris that came out of the volcano and landed some distance away to form a crater.
Volcanic craters will also be circular in shape, and they will look very similar to impact craters. This often makes it difficult to tell these two types of craters apart.
Why Does the Moon Have More Craters Than the Earth?
Interestingly, an asteroid or meteor is actually much more likely to hit the Earth due to the fact that it is much bigger than the moon, which means that there is more of a surface area for it to impact.
However, there are millions of craters on the moon, and there are only 180 known craters on the Earth. Throughout history, both the moon and the Earth have been impacted lots of times throughout the billions of years that they have been around.
The impact craters that are present on Earth are very hard to identify due to the weathering and erosion that has occurred on the surface.
Some things that the Earth has that the moon does not, include water, an atmosphere, and tectonic activity. These are three things that work to erode the surface of the Earth and cover up any craters that are not recent.
When we look at the surface of the Earth, we can identify that almost 80% of it is less than 200 million years old, but when we look at the surface of the moon, we find that 99% of it is more than 3 billion years old.
This goes to show that the surface of the moon has not drastically changed like that of the Earth, which is why we can still see the craters that have been created a long time ago. This would also mean that the craters on Earth would be gone if they were over 200 million years ago.
How Do Craters Help Us Age the Moon?
Due to modern advances in technology, scientists are able to record the size and number of impact craters that are present on the moon to the best of their ability, and the amount of erosion that has taken place will help them to determine the age and history of the crater.
When the solar system was first formed billions of years ago, there would have been a large number of big pieces of debris that would impact the surface of the moon, and the older impact craters are typically larger than the more recent ones.
Usually, the older the surface is, the more it will have been exposed to impacting bodies for a longer period of time than those that are more recent. This would mean that older surfaces will typically have more impact craters, and the moon is littered with these as the surface is very old.
Essentially, professionals can use these craters to identify the age of the moon.
How Many Objects From Space Impact the Earth?
Earth, as well as other planets, is constantly being a target for debris that comes from space, but the size is insignificant enough to cause damage.
Most of these objects will be burned up in the atmosphere, and sometimes many particles will strike at once, which is what we call a meteor shower.
Some of these small debris will make it to the surface of the Earth, but it becomes mixed with soil and ocean sediment.