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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

The "Water on the Moon" Hoopla, Part 2: The murkier part of the story

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/25 05:02 CDT

How much water is there on the Moon, and is it in a form that human explorers could use? This part of the story has many more questions and many fewer definite conclusions.

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The "Water on the Moon" Hoopla, Part 1: There's water on the Moon!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/25 02:32 CDT

For a couple of weeks now, I've been hearing rumors about an upcoming announcement concerning Chandrayaan-1 Moon Mineralogy Mapper ("M3") discovery of "lots of" water on the Moon.

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That psychedelic M-cubed Moon movie explained

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/10/13 05:50 CDT

Advance warning: this entry may be a little technical for some.

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Take My Free Online College Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy CSUDH Class

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/02/04 05:00 CST | 1 comment

Our own Dr. Bruce Betts is once again teaching his Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy college course online. Come join him.

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Take My Free Online College Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy CSUDH Class

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/05 05:02 CST | 9 comments

Our own Dr. Bruce Betts is once again teaching his Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy college course online. Come join him.

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Swan Song

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/09/25 03:51 CDT | 16 comments

The final moments of a lunar orbiter, as told in a song composed by the moon itself.

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Surveyor Digitization Project Will Bring Thousands of Unseen Lunar Images to Light

Posted by Jason Davis on 2014/10/24 02:03 CDT | 4 comments

A team of scientists at the University of Arizona plan to digitize 87,000 vintage images from the surface of the moon, of which less than two percent have ever been seen.

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Surveyor Digitization Project Hints at Long-Lost Lunar Treasures

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/23 10:36 CST | 9 comments

A project to digitize more than 90,000 images taken by NASA’s five Surveyor spacecraft in the 1960s has revealed early hints of never-before-seen treasures captured by America’s first robotic lunar landers.

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Sunset on Chang'e 3's third lunar day: Yutu not dead yet, but not moving either

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/24 12:38 CST | 4 comments

During the third lunar day of Change'3 surface operations the lander operated normally, performing ultraviolet astronomy and imaging Earth's plasmasphere. The rover's instruments were working, but the rover did not move.

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Soviet landers Luna 20, 23, and 24, plus the tracks of Lunokhod 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/03/15 10:55 CDT

Today is the bonanza day for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: the first formal release of orbiter data happened this morning, including 10 Terabytes (that is 10 million Megabytes!) of camera data.

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