Weekly Space News: Bullseye! The Dramatic Mare Orientale
Mare Orientale is one of the most amazing features in the solar system, a titanic bullseye on the edge of the Moon.
With the recent news about its potential formation, let’s take a closer look.
The “Eastern Sea,” which technically if you’re looking at the Moon is on the Western edge (lunar orientation is a complicated thing since “being there” and “looking at it from Earth” are flipped), is more than 200 miles wide.
The recent NASA study referenced above shows that the bullseye feature was formed by one heck of a large impact. The impact area is literally surrounded by rings of mountains. The outer Montes Cordillera stretch is an incredible 580 miles in diameter (930 km), while the two smaller rings, the Montes Rook, have a radius of about 490 miles (791 km), completing encircling the Mare Orientale. There is nothing quite like this on Earth!
And the mountains themselves are rather grand with the Montes Rook stretching to a height of 3.7 miles (6 km), or 19,685 feet tall. For comparison, Denali in Alaska is 20,500 feet, and Mount Rainier in Washington is only 14,409 feet.
The Montes Rook on the Moon are 5,000 feet taller than Mount Rainier in Washington, USA.
So far, the concept of “wilderness” and “mountain adventure” is one that has largely been limited to Earth, but there’s some crazy, crazy mountains and landscapes waiting for exploration on the Moon. There’s potential Yosemite Valleys that no one has ever seen, and sights that could inspire settlers for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
So, let’s get the campfires, Moon S’mores and the lunar RVs ready and go, and start asking: who will be the first to summit the Montes Rook?
Yes, that’s an actual video, not an animation!
Author: Nick Azer; Editor: Susan Emmer