Y-shaped mountains in King crater

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

King crater and its Y-shaped mountains, as seen from lunar orbit by NASA’s Apollo 16. Source: LROC Blog

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 km above the crater floor. The left mountain Dieter is 8 km 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.


screenshot from 2019-01-21 21-41-52

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