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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

Juno's flying by Earth today, and images of the Moon are already on the ground!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/10/09 11:25 CDT | 1 comments

Juno flies past Earth for a gravity assist at 19:22 UTC today, and the first images from the encounter are already on the ground and processed by amateurs!

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Isostasy, gravity, and the Moon: an explainer of the first results of the GRAIL mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/11 01:04 CST | 15 comments

Last week the GRAIL mission published their first scientific results, and what they have found will send many geophysicists back to the drawing board to explain how the Moon formed and why it looks the way it does now. To explain how, I'm going to have to back way up, and explain the basic science behind gravity data.

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Intro Astronomy Class 3: Telescopes, the Moon

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/21 04:35 CST

Explore optical, radio, and space telescopes and the Moon in the video of class 3 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Intro Astronomy Class 1: Tour of the Solar System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/11 05:53 CST | 1 comments

Take a tour of the Solar System in the video of class 1 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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How GRAIL will meet its end

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/13 05:34 CST | 2 comments

The twin GRAIL spacecraft are nearly out of fuel, and are being directed to a controlled impact near the north pole on the near side of the Moon on December 17. Before the end, though, they did some cool things, including flying within 2000 meters of mountaintops, and catching video of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in flight.

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Hold the Moon in Your Hands

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/12 04:49 CDT | 5 comments

Sky & Telescope and Replogle Globes teamed up to take advantage of the fabulous new Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image mosaic of the Moon to make an equally fabulous new Moon globe.

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GRAIL MoonKAM's first (released) video of the Moon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/01 03:49 CST

The first release from�MoonKAM, tiny cameras included on both GRAIL spacecraft whose only purpose is public outreach. Classrooms can sign up for opportunities to propose sites to image.�

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Go LADEE!

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/10 10:41 CDT

Listen to or watch the recording of our live celebration for LADEE as the spacecraft blasted off for the moon.

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Full Free Intro Astronomy Class Now Online

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/05/22 02:57 CDT | 1 comments

Bruce Betts' complete CSUDH Intro Astronomy and Planetary Science class is now available online. Find out how to access it, and go behind the scenes.

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Forty years after Apollo 17's final footsteps

Posted by Andrew Chaikin on 2012/12/14 01:48 CST | 2 comments

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the last human footsteps on the Moon. In my latest video I look back at Apollo 17 and explain why I believe the Moon is the solar system's "jewel in the crown," beckoning us to return.

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