What Exactly Is on the Far Side of the Moon?

If you have ever paid any attention to the moon, you would know that its appearance never changes. Whether you can or cannot pick out the “man in the moon” or a rabbit on the moon’s surface, the same craters are always visible from earth.

Our ancestors may have thought that the moon was a flat disk, but we now know that the moon is, in fact, a globe.

Because of this, we frequently reference the dark side of the moon as something mysterious. Is there anything there? Is it always dark? Why can’t we see it?

Why We Can’t See the Dark Side of the Moon

In reality, there is no “dark side” of the moon, but it does have a “near” side and a “far” side.

While we know and understand that the moon is a globe, many may forget that the moon is actually spinning on an axis while it orbits the earth.

The reason we only see one side of the moon is that it rotates on its axis almost at the same speed that it orbits the earth.

As the moon rotates, the sun rises and sets on almost any given point of its surface, including the so-called “dark,” or far, side of the moon. But by the time the moon has completed its rotation about 27 days later, it has almost simultaneously completed one orbit around the earth. This is known as synchronous rotation and is caused by the earth’s gravitational pull, or tidal locking.

What’s on the Other Side of the Moon

We received pictures of the moon in 1959, thanks to the USSR’s Luna 3 Mission, and in 1968 U.S. astronauts viewed it firsthand for the time ever. These missions revealed that the moon’s far side is covered in many more impact craters from asteroids than the near side, which features larger, shallow basins.

Why the moon was not equally covered in craters long confused scientists. However, more recent data about the moon’s gravity suggested a new explanation. About four billion years ago, at the same time that asteroids were pummeling the moon, the earth was radiating so much heat that the near side of the moon reacted differently to the asteroids, resulting in the shallow basins.

The cause of significant differences in rock isotypes, or molecular compositions, on the near and far sides of the moon remains up to debate.

The far side of the moon also boasts one of the largest known craters in the solar system, called the South Pole-Aitken Basin. The distance from its depths to the top of the highest nearby mountains is about eight miles.

In 2019, the Chinese Chang’e 4 lander and Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, probe successfully landed the first mission on the far side of the moon to explore the South Pole-Aitken Basin. Because ice has been observed in very deep craters at the southern pole, the location could be suitable for humans in the future.

This article is a continuation of a series about how I’m making the problem of building up your portfolio entertaining and productive.

In short, I created a Fiverr gig offering to write blog posts for $10 and asked my friends if they had anything they would like to be researched. They get a concise summary, while I add something to my portfolio and boost my Fiverr profile. You can read all about it here.

The above is the first of four such pieces I will be writing. Because this is very much in the style of a blog post that would require heavy SEO-optimization, I also used this as an opportunity to hone my SEO skills.

Leave me a comment if you spot any ways I could improve my writing.

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