Glossary term: Impact Craters

Description: An impact crater is a depression on the surface of a planet, moon or other solid minor body of the Solar System. Impact craters are formed by a high velocity impact of a smaller body (meteorite). The Moon is full of impact craters due to its lack of atmosphere. The thick atmosphere on Earth stops many meteors from ever reaching the ground. An example of an impact crater on Earth Is Meteor Crater in Arizona, USA.

Related Terms:

See this term in other languages

Term and definition status: This term and its definition is still awaiting approval

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".

Related Media

The asteroid Ceres, roughly spherical with a grey surface, many craters, some of which reveal white subsurface water ice.


Caption: True-colour image of the asteroid Ceres acquired by the spaceprobe Dawn in May 2015, at a distance of 13641 km. The prominent, bright crater at right is Haulani. The smaller bright spot to its left is exposed on the floor of Oxo. Ejecta from these impacts appears to have exposed bright material, probably water ice.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA / Justin Cowart
License: CC-BY-2.0 Creative Comments Attribution 2.0 Generic icons