header image

The Moon

Our Moon

Unlike the rocky inner planets of the solar system, the lunar surface has remained largely preserved and could provide novel perspective into our past and a stepping stone to deep space.

Scientists believe the moon formed over 4 billion years ago when a developing planet collided with Earth. Over time, the debris fused to form the only natural satellite in our night sky. Unlike the rocky inner planets of the solar system, the lunar surface has remained largely preserved and could provide novel perspective into our past. Aside from celestial knowledge, the moon serves as an ideal exploration stepping stone for future deep space missions to near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and Mars. Researchers will test technologies necessary to land, explore, and sustain life for long durations on a planetary surface.

Travel Time

It takes about three days to travel from Earth to the moon.

Mission Spotlight

 

NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission enabled the investigation of the moon’s gravitational field in extraordinary detail to further our understanding of not only its interior structure, but also the evolution of our solar system. The twin orbiters, named Ebb and Flow by an elementary school classroom, have finished three mapping cycles and recently completed the science extended mission phase. On Dec. 17, the pair was sent crashing into the moon’s surface, and even in their demise, may kick-up some interesting materials for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to investigate. The planned impact marked the end of a successful science mission that transmitted data about Earth’s only natural satellite and engaged students around the globe. The crash site has been named in honor of Sally Ride—coordinator of Grail’s MoonKam student outreach program and America’s first women in space.

Did You Know?

How many astronauts have walked on Earth’s Moon?

12. Apollo 17 astronaut, Eugene Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon in 1972. America’s lunar explorers collected and returned 842 pounds of material to be studied on Earth.

Click To Reveal Answer