Glowing with reflected sunlight, the Moon is our nearest celestial neighbor and the brightest object in the night sky. The Moon always faces its Near Side towards the Earth, and the center of the Near Side is shown at the center of this geologic map.
The Moon is covered with hundreds of craters formed by meteorites impacting the surface. Because the Moon has no significant atmosphere, there is little wind erosion to obscure the craters once they form. Several huge impacts have created large geologic features still visible today, including the Australe basin on the Southern hemisphere, the Orientale basin on the Southern Far Side, and the Nectaris basin on the Southern Near Side.
From the Apollo missions carrying people to the Moon, we know that the lunar surface is covered by a layer of fine dust. This dust was formed over billions of years by repeated meteorite impacts breaking up the surface rock into tiny particles. When a projectile strikes the Moon, it impacts at a tremendously high speed that vaporizes the meteorite and sends a shock wave through the Moon that fractures the ground. The explosion can be similar to a nuclear bomb detonated at ground level.
Author of the graphic: Eleanor Lutz