Although the moon has remained largely unchanged during human history, our understanding of it and how it has evolved over time has evolved dramatically. Thanks to new measurements, we have new and unprecedented views of its surface, along with new insight into how it and other rocky planets in our solar system came to look the way they do. See some of the sights and learn more about the moon here!

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has traced the moon's early history as well as the latest trash left behind by moonwalkers, and now the team behind the mission has created a video smashing 4.5 billion years of the moon's existence into less than three minutes.

"Evolution of the Moon," released to mark LRO's first thousand days in orbit, starts just after the moon's congealment into a ball of molten rock, and guides you through the giant blast that formed the South Pole-Aitken Basin, through the pummeling known as the Heavy Bombardment, right through the hail of debris that resulted in the cratered satellite we all know and love.

Only one big scene is missing from the show, in my opinion: the catastrophic impact between Earth and another planet, an event that scientists believe led to the moon's creation. Consider it the prequel to "Evolution of the Moon."There's yet another scene that scientists are thinking about adding to the story: a collision involving the moon and a smaller moonlet, sometime after the moon's formation. Some researchers suspect that such a "Big Splat" could have been responsible for the marked difference in the terrain of the moon's near side and far side — although others think the Aitken Basin blast or gravitational forces could have done the job. NASA's GRAIL mission, which was launched last year, could shed more light on that chapter of the story.

There's also a "Tour of the Moon," about five minutes in length, that guides you through the highlights of the moon's topography with the help of LRO imagery. You'll get a quick overview on the mysteries of Orientale Basin and Aitken Basin, the artifacts left behind by the Apollo 17 mission, the far-side craters we can never see from Earth, and the future of lunar exploration. For space fans, it's must-see video.


A video from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team traces 4.5 billion years of the moon's evolution.

From year to year, the moon never seems to change. Craters and other formations appear to be permanent now, but the moon didn't always look like this. Thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we now have a better look at some of the moon's history. Learn more in this video!

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team presents a "Tour of the Moon."

Responses to "Watch the moon evolve in 3 minutes (Video)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    What has happened to that phenomenon that was referred to as a face left on the surface by ancient civilizations that once visited earth? Was hoping to get another close up as it has gotten so much attention thru the years and the changes convoluted by images brought back by earlier satellites.

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