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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

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Diviner maps geologic context of Chang'e 3 landing site

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/08 01:53 CST | 1 comments

The LRO Diviner Lunar Radiometer has been mapping the entire Moon on a nearly continuous basis since July, 2009. The Diviner team has produced maps of the thermal behavior and and a range of derived quantities at Chang’e 3 landing site that are described in this post.

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LPSC: Thursday: Rovers, Titan, Mars, Venus Express, Neptune

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2008/03/14 03:49 CDT

I spent a large portion of the day at the Lunar and Planetary Institute's library and presented my own poster during the poster sessions, so my coverage of Thursday's sessions is limited.

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LPSC 2013: The Smaller They Are, The Better They Shake

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/25 08:04 CDT | 1 comments

Really cool movies from Jim Richardson propose to explain how the same physics of impact cratering can produce such differently-appearing surfaces as those of the Moon, large asteroids like Eros, and teeny ones like Itokawa.

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LPSC 2011: Lunar Layers

Posted by Mike Malaska on 2011/03/29 11:49 CDT

Some recent high-resolution images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) have revealed large blocks on the lunar surface that show evidence of layers. The layered blocks were seen near the crater Aristarchus, which is a bright crater in the northeast quadrant of the nearside Moon.

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LPSC 2011: Kirby Runyon on Mars, the Moon, Hartley 2, and Ganymede

Posted by Kirby Runyon on 2011/03/15 01:57 CDT

Kirby Runyon, a second-year grad student at Temple University, offered to send me some writeups of selected presentations from last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, and I enthusiastically agreed.

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LPSC 2011: Day 4: Ted Stryk on icy moons and The Moon

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/03/17 11:22 CDT

Here are Ted Stryk's notes from the sessions he attended in the afternoon of Thursday, March 10, at the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

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LPSC 2011: Day 3: Moon, Mars, and Venus

Posted by Ted Stryk on 2011/03/10 11:11 CST

Wednesday morning included some interesting conversations. Notably, I spoke with Pamela Gay, who is responsible for the MoonZoo citizen science program and who is presently working on developing a site through which the public will be able to help search for potential Kuiper belt objects for the New Horizons mission to encounter after the Pluto flyby.

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Lovely giant full Moon photo

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/01 03:08 CDT

Here's a photo worthy of hanging on the wall: a gorgeous, 4000-pixel-square portrait of the full Moon captured by Rolf Hempel from Germany on the night of the "Supermoon."

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Lovely crater turns up in MoonZoo; 2 million images classified, lots more Moon left

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/18 10:48 CDT

Here's a very pretty picture to start off the week: a really gorgeous fresh crater on the lunar farside. There's nothing particularly unusual about this crater; it's just recent and fresh so there's a mesmerizing amount of detail in the feathery patterns of the ejecta that fans outward from it.

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LADEE spotted by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/29 03:11 CST

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has managed to snap a photo of the other current lunar orbiter, LADEE, at the Moon.

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