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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

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 | 7 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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Somewhere Over the Bay of Rainbows

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/12/02 12:35 CST | 4 comments

Pay a visit to the Chang'e 3 lunar landing site.

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Snapshots of Science from the 2014 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/25 02:45 CDT | 2 comments

Vignettes from dozens of LPSC talks: GRAIL and LADEE at the Moon; ice and craters and conglomerates and organics and gullies on Mars; polar deposits and volatile elements on Mercury; tectonics on Enceladus; and more, until my brain was so full I could barely speak.

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Six wheels on soil for Yutu!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/14 03:28 CST | 9 comments

Here it is! Animated gifs, composed of screen grabs from Chinese state television, of the Yutu rover rolling on to the lunar surface. This was a replay, but it was no less thrilling for that; the actual rollout happened at 20:40 UT (12:40 PT). Six wheels on soil! Woohoo!

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Sighting the homeworld

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/17 11:40 CDT

Coming closer every day, Mr. Hayabusa has sighted his final destination: his homeworld, Earth, and its attendant Moon.

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Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/08/05 01:38 CDT | 4 comments

Seasons, sunlight, and shadow at the Moon's north pole

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Science enables exploration, exploration enables science

Posted by Samuel Lawrence on 2009/07/22 05:17 CDT

One primary goal of the LRO mission is to acquire the amazing bounty of scientific data necessary to enable future human lunar exploration and utilization. But why should we even bother going back?

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