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False-color image of the Moon
This false-color image shows the Moon's soil and mineral compostion. Mare Tranquillitatis - the 'Sea of Tranquility' - is the dark blue region on the right.
Earth's Moon:

The regular daily and monthly rhythms of Earth's only natural satellite, the Moon, have guided timekeepers for thousands of years. Its influence on Earth's cycles, notably tides, has also been charted by many cultures in many ages. More than 70 spacecraft have been sent to the Moon; 12 astronauts have walked upon its surface and brought back 382 kg (842 pounds) of lunar rock and soil to Earth.

The presence of the Moon stabilizes Earth's wobble. This has led to a much more stable climate over billions of years, which may have affected the course of the development and growth of life on Earth.

How did the Moon come to be? The leading theory is that a Mars-sized body once hit Earth and the resulting debris (from both Earth and the impacting body) accumulated to form the Moon. Scientists believe that the Moon was formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago (the age of the oldest collected lunar rocks). When the Moon formed, its outer layers melted under very high temperatures, forming the lunar crust, probably from a global "magma ocean."

Read More About Earth's Moon

Just the Facts
Distance from Earth: 
384,400 km
Equatorial Radius: 
1737.4 km
21,970,000 km3
73,483,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg
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Last Updated: 05.27.05