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Early Cratering of the Planets, Size and Age of Craters - Windows to the Universe

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Early Cratering of the Planets

When we look at images of many of the planets, we see all sorts of circular craters on the planet surfaces. Most of these craters were probably formed when the solar system was still very young.

Once the early solar system had planets about the size of the planets today, there were still probably a lot of smaller bodies around, too. The gravity of the large planets would attract nearby smaller bodies, which would hit the planets and leave a crater on the planet's surface.

Craters on the surfaces of the inner planets are up to 4 billion years old, and some craters seem to have been made by objects up to 200 km across!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF