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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

New Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photos show Apollo sites in sharpest detail yet

Posted by Jason Davis on 2011/09/08 11:58 CDT

On September 6, NASA released new high-resolution photos from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) showing the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 landing sites from vantage points as close as 21 kilometers.

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Neil Armstrong changed the world

Posted by Bill Nye on 2012/08/25 10:39 CDT | 15 comments

Neil Armstrong changed the world. He was an excellent engineer and an outstanding pilot. He got the assignment to land a completely novel rocket machine on the Earth’s Moon, because he was the perfect man for the job: He could really fly; he had excellent judgment about the capabilities of his ship; and above all, he had a remarkable ability to keep his wits about him in extraordinarily dangerous situations.

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NASA's LADEE Spacecraft to Fly Through an Eclipse, Crash into the Lunar Surface on April 21st

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/04 01:13 CDT | 1 comment

LADEE, NASA's latest robotic lunar spacecraft, will reach its planned end-of-mission on April 21st, when it will crash on the far side of the Moon.

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NASA re-creates the Apollo 8 Earthrise using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data

Posted by Andrew Chaikin on 2013/12/20 02:20 CST | 1 comment

If there's one thing I've learned after decades of studying the first human voyages to another world, it's that there is always more to discover about Apollo. Case in point: The Apollo 8 Earthrise photo that became one of the iconic images of the 20th century.

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My arduous journey to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera images

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

My arduous journey to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera images

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Moonwalking

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/03/18 12:42 CDT | 8 comments

Get an astronaut's view into several lunar craters.

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Messages of Wonder

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/03/18 04:22 CDT

Some lovely, rarely-seen images from the MESSENGER mission.

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Mercury: a moon-scale body

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/17 06:15 CDT

As I wait for the MESSENGER Mercury Orbit Insertion webcast to start, I thought I'd fiddle with some images to point out that Mercury is a bridge between the scales of planets and the scales of moons.

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Memo to early risers: Look up!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/02 11:46 CDT

There is a traffic jam of planets on the eastern horizon in the early morning right now and for the next several weeks, a prize for those of you who have to rise before dawn.

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Making an ugly rock beautiful

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/11/02 08:03 CDT | 1 comment

Today I stumbled upon the Lunar and Planetary Institute's Lunar Sample Atlas, and was reminded of how much I love petrographic thin sections. They can make unassuming, cruddy looking rocks beautiful.

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