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Geology of the Moon

Geology of the Moon

The geology of the Moon (sometimes called selenology, although the latter term can refer more generally to “lunar science”) is quite different from that of Earth. The Moon lacks a significant atmosphere, which eliminates erosion due to weather; it does not have any form of plate tectonics, it has a lower gravity, and because of its small size, it cooled more rapidly. The complex geomorphology of the lunar surface has been formed by a combination of processes, especially impact cratering and volcanism. The Moon is a differentiated body, with a crust, mantle, and core.

Geological studies of the Moon are based on a combination of Earth-based telescope observations, measurements from orbiting spacecraft, lunar samples, and geophysical data. Six locations were sampled directly during the crewed Apollo program landings from 1969 to 1972, which returned 380.96 kilograms (839.9 lb) of lunar rock and lunar soil to Earth. In addition, three robotic Soviet Luna spacecraft returned another 326 grams (11.5 oz) from 1970 to 1976. The Moon is the only extraterrestrial body for which we have samples with a known geologic context. A handful of lunar meteorites have been recognized on Earth, though their source craters on the Moon are unknown. A substantial portion of the lunar surface has not been explored, and a number of geological questions remain unanswered

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