Farside of the Moon

The farside of the moon is always turned away from the Earth. Its appearance remained a mystery until 1959, when the Russian spacecraft Luna 3 was able to travel behind the Moon and send back the first photographs.

Although the farside looks similar to the moon’s nearside, there are obvious differences. It has few maria, because the lunar crust is thicker than on the nearside, making it difficult for lava to seep through into the impact basins left by colliding space rocks.

The north and south poles were the last parts of the Moon to be mapped. This was done by the Clementine spacecraft in 1994.

Mosaic maps, made by assembling the thousands of images that Clementine sent back, showed that some of the polar craters are permanently shadowed from the Sun’s rays.

Originally posted: November 16, 2012

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