Earth’s Moon might seem a bit boring when viewing it with the naked eye, with its monochrome surface and blurry patches revealing little from afar, but its landscape is anything but featureless. We’ve all seen high-resolution photos of the Moon and seen its countless craters frozen in time, wondering where they came from and how long they’ve been there.
Using recent research data that reveals the approximate age of over 100 of the Moon’s many impact sites, System Sounds created a fantastic time lapse video that condenses well over a billion years of Moon impacts into a brief but stunning animation.
The video begins its countdown over 1.3 billion years ago, showing the lunar impact sites appearing all over the Moon’s surface. Along with the spinning Moon and colorful craters that appear as the video progresses, sounds have been assigned to each impact based on their size. The larger the impact, the deeper the musical note associated with it.
“The craters were dated by studying how fast the ejected material cools during the lunar nighttime,” System Sounds explains in the video’s description. “The debris from older craters has crumbled more over time and the smaller pieces are able to cool very fast. Younger craters are still surrounded by ejected boulders which stay warmer for longer.”
Without weather systems or large quantities of liquid water on its surface, the Moon provides ideal conditions for impact craters to remain visible for hundreds of millions or even billions of years. On Earth, smaller impact sites are erased relatively quickly, with only the largest craters sticking around for us to find. Determining when the Moon was under bombardment from space rocks can help scientists produce a similar timeline for Earth, even without finding the craters here on our home planet.