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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

Relative and absolute ages in the histories of Earth and the Moon: The Geologic Time Scale

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/30 03:04 CDT | 1 comment

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the basins of the Moon -- a result of a trip down a rabbit hole of book research. Here's the next step in that journey: the Geologic Time Scales of Earth and the Moon.

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Pretty picture: Two crescents: New moon, old Venus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/02 03:21 CST | 6 comments

A baby Moon and aging Venus crescents are positioned close in the sky today, and lots of people are taking beautiful photos.

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Pretty picture: Mini-RF exposes lunar geology

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/22 12:03 CST

There are all kinds of neat things to see in this recently released image from the Mini-RF synthetic aperture radar instrument aboard Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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Pretty picture: Looking backward

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/07/23 05:03 CDT | 15 comments

Here it is: the view from Saturn of our Earthly home, one and a half billion kilometers away. We see Earth and the Moon through a thin veil of faintly blue ice crystals, the outskirts of Saturn's E ring. Earth is just a bright dot -- a bit brighter than the other stars in the image, but no brighter than any planet (like Saturn!) in our own sky.

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Pretty picture: Earth and Moon from JunoCam

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/30 11:53 CDT

It's always awe-inspiring to see our great world as just a tiny spot within vast space. The latest spacecraft to get such a view of Earth and the Moon is the Jupiter-bound Juno.

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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

Here's the first cool pic I've managed to produce from the recently-released Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera data set.

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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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Preparing for the Journey to the Moon, Mars and Beyond

Posted by Deepak Dhingra on 2015/10/21 10:03 CDT | 1 comment

Deepak Dhingra reports on a planetary analog field trip exploring a very young volcanic terrain in Idaho at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

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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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