Highly detailed "Supermoon" Pink Moon image with a star field background

1315175642

Highly detailed "Supermoon" Pink Moon image with a star field background

Photo by: Javier Zayas Photography

Javier Zayas Photography

What We Learn from the Lunar Surface

Sure, the Moon is cool to look at, and fun to think about it. And it literally affects us here on the Earth: without the Moon, we’d be missing half our tides, and likely our planet’s rotation wouldn’t be as stable as it is.

September 29, 2022

With all the talk of NASA’s Artemis missions returning humanity to the Moon for the first time in nearly half a century, you might be wondering: why?

First off, let’s address human exploration vs robotic rovers. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) currently has a rover operating on the far side of the Moon, and it’s delivering a lot of quality science. Other space agencies around the world are planning even more remote missions. So why should we send humans? Even though humans require a lot more time, effort, and money to get into space (not to mention the increased risk), people are orders of magnitude more capable and self-sufficient than even the best robots.

Humans can make decisions, act and react, try new ideas, spot interesting new things, and make adjustments all in the span of a single mission – something that robots can’t deliver. If we want science to be done quickly and completely, it’s going to take a person.

As for the science itself, the lunar surface is a time machine. Have you ever noticed all those craters scarring the face of the Moon? The Earth doesn’t have that same level of cratering because our surface constantly replaces itself. The slow action of wind and water erode more recent craters and the evidence of impacts from long ago but pulled under the surface through tectonic action.

The Moon has no air or liquid water, and its surface solidified from molten state billions of years ago. The surface of the Moon is almost perfectly pristine, containing a record of the history of violence in the solar system for the past 4 billion years.

Ironically, we can learn more about the Earth’s past from the Moon than from the Earth itself. We believe that the Moon is literally a chunk of the Earth ripped off when an object the size of Mars crashed into our planet in its infancy. But just like the craters, the history of our world has largely been pulled deep below the surface and away from easy observation.

But not the Moon. The lunar samples brought back from the Apollo missions revealed that our satellite had the exact same composition of elements as the Earth. By studying what the Moon is made of, and understanding how exactly it formed, we can learn about the birth and early evolution of our own planet.

So yeah, let’s go back to the Moon.

Next Up

What Comes After the Moon and Mars?

Space hotels may be in our future.

Watch the Super Flower Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse

Those located in the Americas, Europe, or Africa can see this rare total lunar eclipse during the night of May 15, 2022.

China and Russia are Building Lunar Space Station Together

Recently announced, development for an international lunar space station is underway as China and Russia are joining together to build research facilities in orbit and possibly on the moon.

The Super Flower Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse is Tonight

Early in the morning of May 26 most of the world will be able to look up and see a total lunar eclipse of the Super Flower Blood Moon.

From the Moon to the Oval Office

As homage to the past Apollo Missions and a nod to the upcoming Artemis Program, NASA recently loaned the White House a lunar sample that has been placed in the President’s Oval Office. You can learn more about the Apollo missions and beyond on discovery+.

The Top 5 Weirdest Moons of the Solar System

From the exotic to the just plain odd, our solar system is home to some of the most extreme worlds in the galaxy. But I’m not talking about the planets, I’m talking about their moons. Let’s take a look at the most strange...

NASA Launches CAPSTONE to Test Experimental Orbit Around the Moon

In preparation for future missions, NASA is testing a never-been-flown-before orbit around the Moon in search of the most efficient deep space route for space travel.

NASA's New Rocket is Taller than the Statue of Liberty

The massive space launch system was unveiled last week. Following successful completion of upcoming simulation tests, NASA will set a date for the first of the Artemis II lunar missions.

Scientists in China Discover Rare Moon Crystal that Could Power Earth

A rare lunar crystal found on the near side of the moon is giving scientists hope of providing limitless power for the world – forever.

South Korea Joins Space Race by Sending its First Spacecraft to the Moon

South Korea is launching its first lunar probe to the moon on August 4th. The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) or Danuri, developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) is being launched to study moon carters, magnetic fields, and surface weathering.

Related To: