Y-shaped mountains on the Moon

Adorning the crater aptly named King.

Seen here is the 77 kilometers wide King crater on the Moon’s farside, formed as a result of a large asteroid-sized body colliding with the Moon.

King crater and its Y-shaped mountains on the Moon’s farside, as captured from orbit by Apollo 16. Credit: NASA

King crater is crowned (pun totally intended) with Y-shaped mountains at its center. The rough nature of the crater walls and interior suggest its young age (< 1 billion years) because there hasn't been enough time for space weathering to smooth out the crater shape. Older craters are rounded, younger ones not so much.

Much like the previously covered young crater Tycho and its central peak, King's mountains are thought to have been formed as material got compressed during the impact and bounced back up. The right mountain, called André, rises 7 kilometers above the crater floor. The left mountain Dieter is 8 kilometers high, competing with Mount Everest on Earth.

Visiting King crater in future lunar missions will answer questions about its exact age, nature of the crater material and the crater's formation in particular. King's young age makes it a well-preserved place to study the mechanics of how an impact crater forms.



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