Datos de nuestra Luna. Facts of Moon

From/de SolarSystemQuick 

  • It is thought that the Moon formed 4.5 billion years ago from vaporized rock after the Earth collided with a planet size object.
  • The Moon is around a quarter the size of Earth but has a mass 81 times less than our planet.
  • The Moon orbits the Earth at an average distance of 239,000 miles (384,000 km).
  • The Moon spins on its own axis every 27.3 days, it also takes the same time to complete one orbit of Earth, as a result we only ever see one side of its surface.
  • The Moon is moving 3.8 cm further away from the Earth every year.
  • Gravity on the Moon is one sixth of that on Earth.
  • Despite the Moon’s weak gravity it is strong enough to produce tides on Earth.
  • The largest crater on the Moon is 1,550 miles (2,500 km) in diameter.
  • Ice water from comets that hit the Moon has been detected at both its poles and may be present in other areas.
  • Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Moon’s Surface
The Moon’s surface is covered with powdery soil and rocks blasted out by meteor impacts. The light areas we see on the Moon are called “Highlands”, the dark areas are called “Maria” which are lower in altitude.

Moon’s Atmosphere
The Moon has no real atmosphere instead it is surrounded by an extremely thin layer of gases brought by solar winds, mostly hydrogen and helium. It is sometimes referred to as an exosphere.

Moon’s Temperature
The temperature on the Moon ranges from extremely hot to extremely cold. During the day temperatures can reach 127C (260F), at night they can fall to -173C (-280F).

Origin of Name
The name derives from the Germanic word moon which is related to the Latin mensis meaning month.
Lunar derives from the Roman name for the Moon, Luna.

Life on the Moon
It is highly unlikely that the Moon could support life of any kind.

Formation of the Moon

earth moon collision

The moon is in no way the biggest in the solar system but it is the largest in relation to the size of the planet it orbits, around a quarter the size of Earth. Some astronomers even refer to the Earth and the moon as a double planet. So how did Earth end up with such a large satellite, how did it form? Over the last 150 years many astronomers have attempted to answer this question.The first theory was put forward by the French astronomer Edouard Roche in 1873. He believed that the Earth and the moon formed side by side at the same time and from the same materials. In order for this theory to work the Earth and the moon would need to have the same composition, but they don’t. The moon is far less dense than the Earth with a much lower iron content, unlike Earth it doesn’t have a large iron core.

In 1878 George Darwin, son of Charles Darwin, believed that the moon was in fact moving away from Earth, a theory that was proved correct almost 100 years later, at the rate of almost 4 centimeters every year. He put forward the idea that if you imagine this theory in reverse, going backwards in time, the moon would get closer to Earth every year until eventually it would collide and join together. Darwin concluded that part of the Earth must have separated when the planet was in a molten state, forming the moon. The mathematics of this idea simply didn’t add up and the theory was discounted.

In 1909 the American astronomer Thomas Jefferson Jackson See came up with the “capture theory”. This involved the moon forming in another part of the solar system which at some point came to close to the Earth and was captured by its gravity. This theory explained the differences in composition between the Earth and the moon, if it formed elsewhere in the solar system its composition could be very different. The large hole in this idea is that the moon is thought to be far too large to have been captured by Earth’s gravity.

When the Apollo 11 astronauts returned from the first manned lunar landing in 1969 they brought with them soil samples and rocks from the moon. Geologists analyzing the samples concluded that after its formation the moon’s surface was covered with molten lava. They also found another big surprise, the rock and soil samples from the moon were similar to what we find on Earth’s surface. In the 1970’s the American astronomer William Hartmann used these findings to create a new hypothesis called “the giant impact theory”. He proposed that another planet around the same size as Mars formed near our planet and at some point collided with Earth. This collision was so massive it kick started our planet’s 24 hour rotation. The collision launched a huge amount of debris around the Earth which formed into two clumps, one composed mainly of the smaller planet’s iron core, the other primarily made of crustal material from both planets. The iron clump re-collided with Earth and was absorbed into the planet, the remaining clump went on to form the moon. This explained the lack of iron in the composition of the moon and that the tremendous heat generated by the collision would have indeed created a molten lunar surface in its early formation.Although this theory was initially ignored it eventually was accepted by leading astronomers around the world as the most acceptable explanation we have for the formation of the moon.

Future and Past Missions to the Moon

45. Luna Glob

luna globLaunch: 2012
Agency: RFSA (Russia)

This ambitious mission includes an orbiter, lander, and penetrators that will set up a seismic network on the Moon.

44. Grail

grailLaunch: December 2011
Agency: NASA

Grail is currently flying twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the Moon to measure its gravity field.

43. Chang’e 2

chang'e 2Launch: 2010
Agency: CNSA (China)

Mapped potential landing sites for follow-on robotic missions that will attempt to reach the moon’s surface.


LCROSSLaunch: June 2009
Agency: NASA

Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), confirmed the presence of ice water at the Moon’s poles.

41. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

lunar reconnaissance orbiterLaunch: June 2009
Agency: NASA

Captured high resolution images of the entire surface of the Moon with the intention of finding safe landing sites for future missions.

40. Chandrayaan 1

chandrayaan 1Launch: October 2008
Agency: ISRO (India)

India’s first satellite to leave orbit and is intended to expand the capabilities of India’s space program.

39. Chang’e 1

chang'e 1Launch: October 2007
Agency: CNSA (China)

Chang’e 1 was China’s first mission beyond Earth orbit. After a successful mapping mission lasting about sixteen months Chang’e 1 was deliberately crashed into the Moon on March 1, 2009.

38. Kaguya

kaguyaLaunch: September 2007
Agency: JAXA (Japan)

Consisted of three separate spacecraft designed to study the Moon’s gravity field. Also sent back the first high-definition movies from beyond Earth’s orbit.


venera 14Launch: September 2003
Agency: ESA (Europe)

Smart-1 is powered only by a solar electric engine known as an ion engine. It is the first of the ESA’s programs to develop a new breed of spacecraft that will demonstrate and test innovative technologies for future deep space missions.


Lunar Prospector
lunar prospectorLaunch: January 1998
Agency: NASA

Was designed to go into low orbit around the Moon’s poles in search of water but none was detected. Also completed a map of the Moon’s surface composition.


clementineLaunch: April 1994
Agency: NASA

Once in lunar orbit, Clementine began its primary 70-day mapping mission. It was then supposed to have flown to the asteroid Geographos but malfunctioned leaving it in Earth orbit.


Hiten / Muses A
hitenLaunch: January 1990
Agency: JAXA (Japan)

The Japanese used Hiten to test various technologies for future lunar missions. The spacecraft was intentionally crashed into the moon on April 10, 1993.


Luna 24
luna 24Launch: August 1976
Agency: Soviet Union

Luna 24 landed on the Moon’s surface, collected 170g of dust and rocks then returned to Earth.


Luna 22
luna 22Launch: May 1974
Agency: Soviet Union

Studied the Moon’s magnetic field, gamma ray emissions and gravity.


Luna 21 / Lunokhod 2
lunokhod 2Launch: January 1973
Agency: Soviet Union

The Lunokhod rover covered 37 kilometers of the lunar surface. During its 4 month mission it took 80,000 television pictures. (Lunokhod 2 lander pictured left)


Apollo 17
apollo 17Launch: December 1972
Agency: NASA

Successful manned lunar landing and the last manned mission to the Moon to date. Two astronauts spent 75 hours on the lunar surface collecting 110kg (242 lb) of samples.


Apollo 16
apollo 16Launch: April 1972
Agency: NASA

Successful manned lunar landing. Two astronauts spent 71 hours on the lunar surface collecting 95kg (209 lb) of samples.


Luna 20
luna 20Launch: February 1972
Agency: Soviet Union

Successfully landed on the lunar surface, the craft collected 30 grams of rocks and dust then returned to the Soviet Union the next day.


Luna 19
luna 19Launch: September 1971
Agency: Soviet Union

Studied the lunar environment.


Apollo 15
apollo 15Launch: July 1971
Agency: NASA

Successful manned lunar landing. Two astronauts spent 67 hours on the lunar surface collecting 77kg (169 lb) of samples.


Apollo 14
apollo 14Launch: January 1971
Agency: NASA

Successful manned lunar landing. Two astronauts spent 33 hours on the lunar surface collecting 42kg (94 lb) of samples.


Luna 17 / Lunokhod 1
lunokhod 1Launch: November 1970
Agency: Soviet Union

The remote controlled rover covered 10.5 kilometers of the lunar surface. During its 4 week mission it sent back 20,000 television pictures.


Zond 8
zond 8Launch: October 1970
Agency: Soviet Union

Flew to the Moon and back taking color pictures of Earth and the lunar surface.


Luna 16
luna 16Launch: September 1970
Agency: Soviet Union

Luna 16 was the first robotic mission to land on the Moon, collect samples of dust and rock, and return those samples to Earth.


Apollo 13
apollo 13Launch: April 1970
Agency: NASA

Unsuccessful manned lunar landing but obviously still considered a success for the fact that the astronauts were returned safely to Earth after an explosion in the spacecraft.


Apollo 12
apollo 12Launch: November 1969
Agency: NASA

Successful manned lunar landing. Two astronauts spent 32 hours on the lunar surface collecting 34kg (75 lb) of samples.


Zond 7
zond 7Launch: August 1969
Agency: Soviet Union

Flew to the Moon and back taking color pictures of Earth and the lunar surface.


Apollo 11
apollo 11Launch: July 1969
Agency: NASA

The first successful manned lunar landing. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent 21 hours on the lunar surface collecting 20kg (44 lb) of samples. The event was watched live around the world by millions of people and is seen by many as the greatest achievement by mankind.


Apollo 10
apollo 10Launch: May 1969
Agency: NASA

Three astronauts went into lunar orbit where they tested procedures for the first moon landing.


Apollo 8
apollo 10Launch: December 1968
Agency: NASA

Three American astronauts were the first humans to travel to the Moon. They completed 10 orbits and returned to Earth.


Zond 6
zond 6Launch: November 1968
Agency: Soviet Union

Was thought to be the Soviet Union’s final test before launching cosmonauts to the Moon. It took pictures as it flew near the lunar surface then returned to Earth.


Zond 5
zond 5Launch: September 1968
Agency: Soviet Union

Zond 5 left Earth’s orbit then flew around the Moon before returning to our planet.


Luna 14
luna 14Launch: April 1968
Agency: Soviet Union

The spacecraft took images of the Moon and studied the lunar gravitational field.


Surveyor Landers – 1,3,5,6 and 7
surveyor landerLaunch: May 1966 – January 1968
Agency: NASA

Surveyor 1 was the first spacecraft from the United States to perform a controlled landing on the surface of the Moon. During its 6 week mission it took 11,000 images of the lunar surface. Subsequent Surveyor missions (3,5,6,7) performed similar tasks in preparation for NASA’s manned landings.


Lunar Orbiters 1,2,3,4 and 5
lunar orbiterLaunch: August 1966 – August 1967
Agency: NASA

Lunar Orbiter 1 sent back high quality television images of over 2 million square miles of the lunar surface. Orbiters 2,3,4 and 5 undertook similar missions eventually mapping 99% of the Moon’s surface and pinpointing potential landing sites. All the crafts were deliberately crashed into the Moon to avoid compromising the Apollo missions.


Luna 13
luna 13Launch: December 1966
Agency: Soviet Union

Successfully landed on the lunar surface and conducted experiments to determine the soil density and radioactivity.


Luna 12
luna 12Launch: October 1966
Agency: Soviet Union

Took 1,100 images of the lunar surface after making over 600 orbits around the Moon.


Luna 11
luna 11Launch: August 1966
Agency: Soviet Union

The spacecraft was designed to test new technology and made 277 orbits of the Moon.


Luna 10
luna 10Launch: March 1966
Agency: Soviet Union

Luna 10 was the first spacecraft to successfully go into orbit around another celestial body studying radiation levels, cosmic ray intensities, and took readings of the Moon’s weak magnetic field.


Luna 9
luna 10Launch: January 1966
Agency: Soviet Union

Luna 9 became the first spacecraft to make a controlled landing onto the surface of another celestial body. The spacecraft sent back three panoramas of the lunar landscape.


Zond 3
zond 3Launch: July 1965
Agency: Soviet Union

Zond 3 took 25 images as it flew by the far side of the Moon.


Ranger 7,8 and 9
ranger 9Launch: July 1964 – March 1965
Agency: NASA

Rangers 7,8 and 9 were the first craft to take high quality images of the lunar surface. Between them they took over 17,000 images, notably Ranger 9 sent back images which were broadcast live on network television.


Luna 3
luna 3Launch: October 1959
Agency: Soviet Union

The first spacecraft to take pictures of the far side of the Moon.


Luna 2
luna 2Launch: September 1959
Agency: Soviet Union

Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to land on another celestial body, crash landing on the Moon’s surface, it didn’t detect any magnetic field.


Pioneer 4
pioneer 4Launch: March 1959
Agency: NASA

Passed within 60,000 kilometers (37,300 miles) of the Moon and returned data on lunar radiation levels.

6 comentarios

  1. chrisbuerklein · marzo 9, 2013

    I like the idea of the double planet. Because life on earth without the moon wouldn’t be the same. And now I know much more about the creation of the moon which I love to watch and which comforts me in some way thanks to it’s presence.

    • M G · marzo 9, 2013

      Yes, our connection with the moon is even more than the magical enchantment we already feel with it. I’ve been very astronomical lately because my son wants me to write a fantasy Story with him, so we are looking for a location. This might be awesome, don’t you think?
      Thank you very much for passing around, I appreciate it a lot. Hope you find it worthfull.

      • chrisbuerklein · marzo 11, 2013

        A fantasy story? You are a wonderful father – I think the moon / double planet as location would be fantastic… please let me more know as you go ahead!
        I shared with my friends as I found your post so wonderful and I showed it to my children too :)))

      • M G · marzo 11, 2013

        Thanks to your example with the chocolate cakes, Chris!

      • chrisbuerklein · marzo 12, 2013

        A fantasy story is just “a bit” more complicated than a chocolate cake I dare say 😉 But what matters is creating something together with our children.

      • M G · marzo 12, 2013

        Exactly Chris, don’t expect a súper novel. Is mainly a father & son stuff. 🙂


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