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Our Moon

Earth's companion is so large and fascinating that geologists count the Moon as one of the solar system's "terrestrial planets." In fact, it was probably born from Earth, after a Mars-sized body collided with the proto-Earth, in a collision so violent that the Moon that coalesced from the leftover fragments was entirely (or almost entirely) molten. We can tell this story of Earth and the Moon's creation thanks to our analysis of the rocks returned to Earth by the Apollo astronauts, Luna landers, and chance discoveries of lunar meteorites. New laboratory techniques yield new discoveries every year even though no samples have been collected from the surface of the Moon since 1972.

In the years since the end of the space race between the United States and Russia, many other nations have sent robotic spacecraft to orbit the Moon as a first step in their planetary exploration: Japan, the European Space Agency, India, and China. Likewise, many people see a staging station on the Moon as a necessary first stepping stone toward sending humans on missions to asteroids or Mars. Thanks to the combined data from lunar orbiters from all nations we know that there is water stored in lunar soil and that there are permanently sunlit peaks at the lunar poles, providing for two basic needs of human settlements: water and power. We can go back to the Moon; but who will make the effort?

Recent Blog Articles About the Moon

Yutu Update

Posted by Phil Stooke on 2014/04/10 03:08 CDT | 1 comment

We don’t hear a lot at the moment about Chang’E 3 and Yutu, the Chinese lander and rover which were all over the news a few months ago. But Phil Stooke has been collecting news online and in person last month at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and now tries to put it all together and address the current state of the mission.

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What's the significance of this unremarkable spot on the Moon?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/29 08:38 CST

This was a fun image released by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera science team. Take a look at it and see if you can figure out what the significance of the red arrow is.

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Webcast Tonight! Planetary Scientist and Society President Jim Bell

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/02/20 07:59 CST

Professor Bell's topic is "Exploring Mars, the Moon, Asteroids, and Comets with Rovers and Landers," and there is no one better to talk about this subject.

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Watch LADEE Launch to the Moon with The Planetary Society

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/06 08:45 CDT

Starting at 7:30pm PDT/10:30pm EDT, we will webcast a special event around the launch of NASA's next lunar spacecraft. Watch our special coverage with lunar scientists and live video from the launch site, as well as NASA TV footage of the launch itself.

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Watch "Lunar Bridgehead," a Wonderfully Campy 1964 Film about Ranger 7

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/08/01 09:13 CDT | 8 comments

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a 1964 documentary on Ranger 7 in honor of the spacecraft's fiftieth anniversary.

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Volcanism across the solar system: Io

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/20 05:33 CDT

Three months ago, grandiosely, I announced that I was going to survey volcanism across the solar system, and I began the journey on Earth. Then I failed to follow up.

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Video: Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration sends Bill Nye over the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/21 01:23 CST | 1 comment

In this fun video, the Planetary Society worked with LADEE Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration team to communicate live over their lunar link.

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Updates on Chang'e 3: Rover and lander both awake, good science data received

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/14 05:01 CST | 8 comments

According to news reports from China, the Yutu rover woke up from its two-week nap at 5:09 Beijing time on January 11 (21:09 on January 10, UTC), successfully establishing communication with Earth. The lander woke up autonomously at 8:21 Beijing time / 00:21 UTC on January 12, and is also "in normal condition." UPDATED to note that the lander's camera apparently did not survive lunar night.

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Two natural bridges on the Moon (now with 3D!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/07 01:28 CDT

Imagine this landscape: you're walking across an unusually smooth lunar surface, an impact melt sheet on the floor of a relatively recently formed crater.

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Two Eclipses in October

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/10/06 01:09 CDT

October 2014 brings big sky fun: a total lunar and partial solar eclipse, both visible from North America. The lunar eclipse will also be visible from most areas around the Pacific Ocean. Here is info on how to observe these eclipses.

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