Moon Sheds Light on Earth's Impact History

  • Released Thursday, February 7th, 2019
  • Updated Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 12:12AM
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Scientists have found a new way to estimate the ages of relatively large, young craters on the Moon using data from the Diviner instrument on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The method has identified over 100 craters younger than one billion years and larger than 10 kilometers across. The ages suggest that the cratering rate has more than doubled over the last 290 million years or so.

The Earth's crater record shows the same pattern. It was thought that some of the older craters were erased by weathering and geological processes, but the new Moon data suggest that the Earth record is a true reflection of the cratering rate — that the Earth has been hit more often in the recent past than it was a few hundred million years ago.

A print-resolution still image of the Diviner rock abundance data overlaid on the lunar globe.

A print-resolution still image of the Diviner rock abundance data overlaid on the lunar globe.

The Diviner rock abundance map key.

The Diviner rock abundance map key.

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