An impact crater is formed when an object like an asteroid or meteorite crashes into the surface of a larger solid object like a planet or a moon.
To form a true impact crater, this object needs to be traveling extremely fast—many thousands of miles per hour!
When a solid object crashes into something at these super fast speeds, it forms a crater regardless of how hard or tough it is.
It immediately vaporizes and creates enormous shockwaves through the ground that melt and recrystallize rock.
All that's left is a big circular hole in the ground and some seriously mangled rocks!
Some famous impact craters...
Earth: Meteor Crater
Meteor Crater (also known as Barringer Crater) in Arizona was the first crater discovered to be formed by an extraterrestrial impact. It formed 50,000 years ago from a meteorite that may have been up to about 150 feet wide traveling more than 28,000 mph.
Moon: Tycho Crater
Tycho Crater, in the moon's southern hemisphere, is believed to be about 108 million years old—young, by moon standards.
Earth: Vredefort Crater
Vredefort crater in South Africa is the largest known impact crater on Earth—almost 200 miles across! At over 2 billion years old, it is also one of the oldest. Because of erosion over this long time period, the crater is a bit difficult to see.