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The maria and terrae can even be distinguished from Earth by the naked eye.

As shown in Figure 4.1, the maria on the near side of the Moon appear to be dark and smooth, with only a few large craters.

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The irregular, dark, smooth area in the lower left is Mare Marginis with Mare Smythii below it; the rest of this vast region lacks large accumulations of lava.

Why there are so few maria on the far side of the Moon remains a topic of discussion.

This is the familiar hemisphere of the Moon, for the Moon always has the same face turned toward Earth. When Galileo first observed the Moon through a telescope, he discovered that its dark areas are fairly smooth and its bright areas are rugged and densely pockmarked with craters.

He called the dark areas maria, the Latin word for seas, and the bright areas terrae (lands).

We now have over 380 kg of rocks from nine places on the Moon, rocks that have been analyzed by hundreds of scientists from many different countries.

Data from a variety of experiments have revealed much about the Moon's deep interior.As it turns out, the Moon is truly a whole new world, with rocks and surface features that provide a record of events that occurred during the first billion years of the solar system.This record is not preserved on Earth because all rocks formed during the first 800 million years of Earth's history were recycled back into the interior.Long ago the distance from Earth to the Moon was measured and the diameter of the Moon determined.Early astronomers realized that the Moon's rotation period and its period of revolution are the same; thus it keeps one hemisphere facing Earth at all times.But not until the 1960s---and the inception of space travel with its sophisticated satellites and probes and the eventual Moon landing---did man begin to appreciate the significance of the Moon as a planet.

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