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Moon Crater Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Driving a car on the moon would be hard because the moon is covered with potholes. These holes, or craters, are caused by objects hitting the moon. Learn why there are so many craters on the surface of the moon.

What are Moon Craters?

Do you know what sport you'd have to be really good at if you lived on the moon? Dodgeball! That's because every day there are rocky pieces of space debris called meteoroids flying toward the moon from outer space. When these space rocks make contact with the moon, they explode like bombs, making holes on the moon's surface called moon craters.

Moon craters are holes on the surface of the Moon.
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If you look up at a full moon on a clear night, it looks like a perfect round ball. But if you could fly up closer to the moon, you'd see that its surface is filled with craters thanks to billions of years of impact from space debris. Yet, the moon is not the only target for this flying material. Craters can also be found on planets, like Mars, Mercury, and even Earth!

Why Does Space Debris Hit the Moon?

You might wonder why the moon has so many more craters than Earth. That's because the Earth is surrounded by layers of gases that protect it called the atmosphere. The gases of the atmosphere cause most of the debris to burn up before they hit Earth. If you've ever been lucky enough to see a shooting star, then you've seen a meteoroid burning up in Earth's atmosphere (when it burns up in our atmosphere, a meteoroid is actually called a meteor).

The moon doesn't have an atmosphere, so it's an easy target for meteoroids. Craters also tend to last longer on the moon because there's no wind or rain to wear them away and no plants or water to cover them up like here on Earth.

Features of a Moon Crater

Size

Moon craters come in different sizes. The size depends on the size of the object that hit the Moon and how fast it was traveling. The biggest and fastest meteoroids make the biggest craters.

Shape

The meteoroids that hit the moon have different shapes, but most moon craters are round. When a piece of debris strikes the moon, it causes materials on the moon's surface to fly out in every direction, creating a mostly circular hole. It's like what happens if you drop a rock into a pile of mud. The mud splashes in all directions, leaving the rock sitting in the middle of a muddy, round hole.

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