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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

Pretty Picture: Eagle's Landing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/09/13 03:59 CDT

Amateur image processor Tom Dahl's spectacularly high-resolution version of Buzz Aldrin's panoramic view of the Apollo 11 landing site.

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Pretty picture: An unexplained chain of elliptical craters on the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/02 02:41 CDT

Pretty picture: An unexplained chain of elliptical craters on the Moon

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Pretty picture: a moon transit

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/02/21 05:52 CST | 5 comments

A reader comment inspired me to dig up an oldie but a goodie: a sequence of photos of the Moon transiting Earth, seen from a very long way away,

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Postcards from Clementine

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/02/25 12:44 CST | 4 comments

Nineteen years ago this month, the Clementine mission sent some amazing views from the moon.

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PlanetVac: Sucking Up Planetary Regolith

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/10/30 02:27 CDT | 3 comments

Learn about the Planetary Society’s newest project: PlanetVac, with Honeybee Robotics, aims to prototype and test in a huge vacuum chamber a new way to sample planetary surfaces that could be used for sample return or for in situ instruments.

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Planetary Society Weekly Hangout, Thu Jan 31 1200PT/2000UT: Sarah Noble on lunar science and working for NASA HQ

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/01/31 02:00 CST

We welcomed Sarah Noble to our weekly Google+ Hangout. Sarah is a lunar geologist and a civil servant working in the Research & Analysis program at NASA Headquarters, and has recently been named Program Scientist for the LADEE lunar mission.

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Planetary Radio: Don't Step in That Puddle!

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/07/01 06:18 CDT

The Planetary Science Institute's Amanda Hendrix is the guest for our July 1 episode. She finds water in the least likely places, including Luna.

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One Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/04/08 09:12 CDT | 4 comments

Dispatches from five different worlds--all sent by robotic spacecraft on the same day.

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New views of Lunokhod 1 and Luna 17 from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/03/14 08:47 CDT

It is always thrilling to see relics of human exploration out there on other worlds. Today, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team posted some new photos of two defunct spacecraft: the Luna 17 lander and the Lunokhod 1 rover. I've posted images of the two craft before, but the ones released today are much better.

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New version of panoramic view from Chang'e 3

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/21 05:02 CST

A higher-resolution version of the Chang'e 3 lander's panoramic view of the lunar surface has appeared on the Web, and artist Don Davis has cleaned it of artifacts to make a beautiful, seamless view. In other news, the mission has been reorganized to accommodate a possibly year-long adventure on the lunar surface.

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