Moon missions Moon

I
INTRODUCTION

Landmarks of the Moon This view of the full moon shows its dark seas, or maria, and the two bright-rayed craters Tycho (near bottom) and Copernicus (directly north of Tycho). The main seas are the Oceanus Procellarum (far left), Mare Imbrium (top center), Mare Crisium (far right), Mare Tranquillitatis (directly left of Crisium), Mare Serenitatis (above Tranquillitatis), and Mare Fecundatis (beneath and right of Tranquillitatis). John Sanford/Science Source/Photo Researchers, Inc.

Moon, name given to the only natural satellite of Earth. The Moon is the second brightest object in Earth’s sky, after the Sun, and has accordingly been an object of wonder and speculation for people since earliest times. The natural satellites of the other planets in the solar system are also sometimes referred to as moons. Telescopes have revealed a wealth of lunar detail since their invention in the 17th century, and spacecraft have contributed further knowledge since the 1950s. Earth’s Moon is now known to be a slightly egg-shaped ball composed mostly of rock and metal. It has no liquid water, virtually no atmosphere, and is lifeless. The Moon shines by reflecting the light of the Sun. Although the Moon appears bright to the eye, it reflects on average only 12 percent of the light that falls on it. This reflectivity, called albedo, of 0.12 is similar to that of coal dust. The diameter of the Moon is about 3,480 km (about 2,160 mi), or about one-fourth that of Earth. The Moon’s mass is only 1.2 percent of Earth’s mass. The average density of the Moon is only three-fifths that of Earth, and gravity at the lunar surface is only one-sixth as strong as gravity at sea level on Earth. The Moon moves in an elliptical (oval-shaped) orbit around Earth at an average distance of 384,403 km (238,857 mi) and at an average speed of 3,700 km/h (2,300 mph). It completes one revolution in 27 days 7 hours 43 minutes. For the Moon to go from one phase to the next similar

Moon missions phase—as seen from Earth—requires 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes. accounting for the fact that virtually the same portion of the Moon (the ―near side‖) is always turned toward Earth. All of these motions combined determine when and how the Moon appears in the sky to an observer on Earth. the Moon rises about 50 minutes later every day. Half the Moon is always in sunlight. Michael J. The Moon shows progressively different phases as it moves along its orbit around Earth. just as half of Earth has day while the other half has night. Howell/Liaison Agency As the Moon orbits Earth in a counterclockwise direction. The Moon rotates once on its axis in the same period of time that it circles Earth.‖ which is sometimes confused with the Moon’s far side—the side that always faces away from Earth. Earth itself rotates counterclockwise (from west to east) on its axis and revolves around the Sun in a counterclockwise orbit. the Earth has to turn an extra 13.8 degrees further in its orbit in 24 hours. This period is called a lunar month. The phases of the Moon depend on how much of the sunlit half . Since the Moon has moved 13. Here the moon looms large over the San Francisco skyline. II THE MOON SEEN FROM EARTH Moon Illusion When the moon is close to the horizon.8 degrees on its axis for the Moon to rise above the horizon again. Thus. it seems larger than when it is in the sky overhead. there is no permanent ―dark side of the Moon. Psychologists today still debate the cause of this illusion. Seen from a single spot on Earth. which has fascinated scientists and philosophers for centuries.

The Moon is full when it is farther away from the Sun than Earth. another week later. an event called a solar eclipse. it is said to be in crescent phase. By a cosmic coincidence.1 degrees with respect to the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. in its last quarter. Lunar eclipses happen at full moon about twice a year and are visible over large areas of Earth. In the phase called the new moon. it is new when it is closer. The Moon is in the sky about 12 hours a day. a week afterward. The round shadow of Earth passes over the Moon. As a result. Its unseen presence can be revealed in a spectacular way if the dark Moon passes directly in front of the Sun. The Moon is said to be waning as it progresses from full to new. rising at sunset. and to be waxing as it proceeds from new to full. However. giving it a red or copper hue from sunlight filtered through Earth’s atmosphere. the Moon’s orbit is tilted 5. the view of the Sun is blocked and the Moon’s shadow falls on a small region of the surface of the Earth. New moon is noticeable when the Moon is close to the western horizon at sunset. a solar eclipse would occur somewhere on Earth every month at new moon. the Moon appears as a half-circle again. The dark phase of the Moon occurs when the Moon is in the daytime sky with its shaded night side facing Earth.Moon missions can be seen at any one time.5 of a degree) when seen from Earth. . happen more often than total eclipses. Another type of eclipse results when Earth comes directly between the Sun and the Moon. rising just after dawn. the full moon shows its fully lighted near side. If the Moon’s orbit lay exactly in the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Eclipse © Microsoft Corporation. When it is less than half illuminated. resembling a luminous halfcircle. solar eclipses occur only about 2 to 5 times a year. All Rights Reserved. When this happens. When it is more than half illuminated. About a week after a new moon. the Moon is in first quarter. At new moon it is in the sky during daylight hours. Partial eclipses. the near side is completely in shadow. the apparent sizes of the disk of the Moon and the disk of the Sun are approximately the same (within about 0. The phases of the Moon match its position in the sky. The entire cycle is repeated each lunar month. At full moon it is visible throughout the night. The full moon occurs when the Moon is above the eastern horizon at sunset about 14 days later. when the Moon only partially covers the disk of the Sun. it is said to be in gibbous phase.

Moon. Billions of years ago volcanic eruptions sculpted large areas of the surface. and meteors continue to create new craters. and rilles (channels or grooves) are still discernable. Scientists have also recently discovered possible evidence of ice in permanently shadowed areas of the surface. yet it was geologically active in the past and is still not totally unchanging. giving rise to their name maria (Latin for ―seas‖). At any one time. The brighter regions were held to be continents. Small amounts of gas from deep in the Moon may still reach the surface. an observer on Earth can see only 50 percent of the Moon’s entire surface. The Moon has no movement of wind or water to alter its surface. rounded. an additional 9 percent can be seen from time to time around the edges because the viewing angle from Earth changes slightly as the Moon moves through its elliptical orbit. All Rights Reserved. and Sun. .Moon missions Phases of the Moon The appearance of the Moon from Earth depends on the relative positions of the Earth. Craters cover the surface. Modern observation and exploration of the Moon has yielded far more comprehensive and specific knowledge. III SURFACE OF THE MOON Early observers of the Moon believed that the dark regions on its face were oceans. Such ice could have come from comet impacts. Volcanic features such as maria. circular hills). However. This slight relative motion is called libration. domes (low. This illustration shows what the Moon looks like from Earth at different stages of the Moon's orbit. This term is still used today although these regions are now known to be completely dry. Micrometeorites also slowly erode surface features and alter the lunar soil. © Microsoft Corporation.

Seismometers operating on the lunar surface have also recorded signals indicating between 70 and 150 meteorite impacts per year. These streaks are called ray systems. The biggest of the Moon’s craters were created by the impacts of large remnants from the formation of the planets billions of years ago when the young solar system still contained many such remnants. an oval-shaped plain on the near side of the Moon 2. Maria are plains of dark-colored rock that cover approximately 40 percent of the Moon's visible hemisphere. Billions of years of this meteorite bombardment ground up the Moon’s surface rocks to produce the finely divided rock fragments that compose the regolith. Sinuous rilles are meandering channels that are probably lava drainage channels or collapsed lava tubes formed by large lava flows. At full Moon long bright streaks that radiate from certain craters can be seen. Nearly all the craters were formed by explosive impacts of high-velocity meteorites. Hence the Moon is still being bombarded by meteorites. rilles. Rilles are of two basic types: sinuous and straight. This probably reflects the fact that the Moon’s crust is thicker on the far side than on the near side. comparable to the Himalayas on Earth.16 billion and 3. The largest of the maria is Oceanus Procellarum. but the rock that formed the maria has a higher iron content and contains unusually large amounts of titanium. with projectile masses from 100 g to 1. Straight rilles are large shallow troughs caused by movement of the Moon’s crust. and a few craters display indisputable characteristics of volcanic origin. The maria formed when molten rock erupted onto the surface and solidified between 3. in the Leibnitz and Doerfel ranges near the south pole. B Volcanic Features Maria. although neither as often nor as violently as in the distant past. have directly observed meteorites forming small craters on the Moon’s surface.96 billion years ago. Ray systems are created when bright material ejected from the craters by meteorites splashes out onto the darker surrounding surface. This rock resembles terrestrial basalt. Craters range in size from microscopic to the South Pole-Aitken Basin.000 kg (4 oz to 2.000 ft) in height. Astronomers.100 m (20. however. which measures over 2.500 km (1560 mi) in diameter and would nearly span the continental United States. Photographs of the side of the Moon not visible from Earth have revealed a startling fact: The far side generally lacks the maria that are so conspicuous a feature of the visible side.Moon missions A Craters The Moon’s surface is covered with craters overlain by a layer of soil called regolith.200 lb). .500 km by 1. they may be up to a thousand kilometers long and several kilometers wide. a volcanic rock type widely distributed on Earth. The highest mountains on the Moon. make up the rim crest of the South Pole-Aitken Basin and have peaks up to 6. and therefore the lavas that form the maria were more easily erupted through the thinner crust of the near side. domes.500 km wide.

The unusually bright soil around a feature 3 km (2 mi) wide on the Moon’s equator indicates some process has turned over fresh regolith that has not had enough time to be ―weathered‖ by solar wind and micrometeorites. At least three other lunar features that look similar to Ina have been identified. Gases from inside the Moon may have erupted on the surface. thought to be small inactive volcanoes. no recent eruptions of liquid rock have been observed and the Moon evidently has had no volcanic activity on its surface over the last 1 billion years. lifting and exposing fresh lunar soil.000 sq km (3. and was later examined by the Clementine probe. however. from 10 million to 6 billion metric tons. Clementine was a joint venture by the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The spacecraft’s radar showed what may be an 8. They may have been formed by bursts of gas. and consisted of finding elevated levels of hydrogen. Comets and micrometeoroids that strike the Moon release gases that contain water. may consistently be as low as -220°C (-364°F). C Ice Temperatures on most of the Moon’s surface are too extreme for water or ice to exist. Magnetic and other measurements indicate a current temperature at the Moon’s core as high as 1600°C (2900°F). ranging from a maximum of 127°C (261°F) at lunar noon to a minimum of -173°C (-279°F) just before lunar dawn. .Moon missions Domes are small rounded features that range from 8 to 16 km (5 to 10 mi) in diameter and from 60 to 90 m (200 to 300 ft) in height.000 sq mi) area covered with a mixture of dirt and ice crystals. In 1996 a team working with data gathered by the Clementine spacecraft announced that frozen water may exist in one of these shadowed areas near the Moon’s south pole. the feature was first photographed from Apollo spacecraft orbiting the Moon in the 1970s. NASA launched the Lunar Prospector spacecraft toward the Moon in 1998. often contain a small rimless pit on their tops. forming ice that combines with the lunar soil. Scientists do not know the exact source and nature of the gases. However. Astronomers reported possible evidence of ―out-gassing‖ on the surface of the Moon in the last 1 to 10 million years in a paper published in 2006. Evidence from seismic recordings suggests that some regions near the lunar center may be liquid. Called Ina. Temperatures in permanently shadowed areas near the lunar poles. Domes. Prospector returned data that appeared to confirm the Clementine discovery and suggested that a significant amount of water exists in the dark areas near the lunar poles in the form of ice crystals mixed with soil. Clementine was launched in 1994 and gathered data for four months. The evidence was indirect. around the poles. a component of water. At most. above the melting point of most lunar rocks. trapped gas from deep in the Moon may still reach the surface in some places. Estimates of the possible amount of water on the Moon varied widely. as well. The gases would form an extremely thin atmosphere that would then migrate to the coldest regions of the poles and condense out. however.

After years of research on lunar rocks during the 1970s and 1980s. will carry a special satellite called LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite) that will look for evidence of water in the debris plume when the LRO’s booster stage crashes into Shackleton Crater at the south pole. this model became the most widely accepted one for the Moon’s origin. The giant impact model proposes that early in Earth’s history. hoping that the debris that rose with the impact would contain detectable water vapor. In 2003 researchers used the giant Arecibo Observatory radio telescope to bounce radar signals off the surface of craters at the Moon’s poles. The formation in Earth orbit model claimed that the Moon formed independently. is entirely consistent with current knowledge of the Moon. Before the modern age of space exploration. scientists proposed what has come to be regarded as the most probable of the theories of formation: a giant. having studied Moon rocks and close-up pictures of the Moon. The fission from Earth model proposed that the young. molten Earth rotated so fast that it flung off some material that became the Moon. The returned radar signal indicated that large. Although no water was detected after the crash. The Arecibo Observatory conducted a higher resolution radar study of the lunar south pole in 2006 and found that similar radar signals came from both sunlit and shaded areas. at the end of the Lunar Prospector’s mission. They acknowledged several other possible explanations for the result: The spacecraft might have missed its target area. The findings failed to rule out the existence of smaller amounts of ice at the lunar poles preserved in thin layers or as scattered ice crystals mixed with dust. None of these three models. where debris from the impact eventually coalesced to form the Moon. scientists programmed the spacecraft to crash at a specific spot likely to contain water. planetary impact. . scientists could not conclude that no water existed on the Moon.6 billion years old. well over 4 billion years ago. the telescopes used to observe the crash might have been aimed incorrectly. however. The issue of ice at the lunar poles was not resolved. The formation far from Earth model proposed that the Moon formed independently in orbit around the Sun but was subsequently captured by Earth’s gravity when it passed close to the planet. scientists had three major models for the origin of the Moon. Early estimates for the size of this object were comparable to the size of Mars. In 1975. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The catastrophic impact blasted portions of Earth and the impacting body into Earth’s orbit. however. but close enough to Earth to orbit the planet. IV ORIGIN OF THE MOON Measuring the ages of lunar rocks has revealed that the Moon is about 4. scheduled for launch in 2008. or the magnitude of the impact created by the Lunar Prospector spacecraft may have been insufficient to generate a large cloud of water vapor. but other research suggests that the object may have been more massive and that it struck Earth at a glancing angle. or about the same age as Earth and probably the rest of the solar system.Moon missions In 1999. Earth was struck by a large planet-sized body sometimes referred to as Theia. thick layers of ice were not present.

being much nearer to the Earth than the Sun. On the side of the Earth facing away from the Moon. Regions of strong magnetic fields repel the charged particles that stream from the Sun in the solar wind. Some scientists speculate that the magnetic fields were induced by the extreme shock pressures associated with the large asteroid collisions that created the basins. The water’s inertia. Scientists believe that interaction with the solar wind darkens the Moon. and the simple fact that the other models are all inadequate to one degree or another. and that some lighter swirl-shaped regions of the Moon are protected by local magnetic fields.Moon missions The giant impact model seems to account for most of the available evidence: the similarity in composition between Earth and Moon indicated by analysis of lunar samples. Research continues on the ramifications of such a violent lunar origin to the early history of Earth and the other planets. but without forming moons– at least none that have survived. is the principal cause of tides. This global field shut down for some reason and only remnants of it exist in certain places on the lunar surface. the Moon exerts a stronger gravitational pull on the side of the Earth that is closer to it and a weaker pull on the side farther from it. the Moon’s stronger pull makes water flow toward it. On the side of the Earth facing the Moon. whereas the regional distribution of the magnetic surface anomalies tends to support the local field model. it moves in response to the average of the Moon’s gravitational attraction. The Moon’s weaker pull does not . indicating that they solidified in the presence of a magnetic field. Similar giant impacts may have affected the planets Mercury and Venus. the Moon’s pull on the oceans is weakest. however. the near-complete global melting of the Moon (and possibly Earth) in the distant past. are liquid and can flow in response to the variation in the Moon’s pull. Others believe that the Moon originally had a global magnetic field generated by the movement of liquid metal in the core as on Earth. or its tendency to keep traveling in the same direction. The Earth does not respond to this variation in strength because the planet is rigid—instead. The Moon. The Moon has small. V MAGNETIC PROPERTIES OF THE MOON The Moon has no global magnetic field as does Earth. Evidence for the Moon’s gravitational influence can be seen in the ocean tides. local magnetic fields that seem to be strongest in areas that are on opposite hemispheres from large basins. Venus’s slow backward (retrograde) rotation may have been caused by one or more collisions with planet-sized bodies. However. Because the force of gravity decreases with distance. VI GRAVITATIONAL INFLUENCE OF THE MOON The Moon orbits the Earth because of the force of Earth’s gravity. The world’s oceans. Some lunar rocks are weakly magnetic. leaving a dense iron core. The ―fossil‖ magnetism found in some lunar rocks supports the former global field model. the Moon also exerts a gravitational force on the Earth. causing a dome of water to rise on the Earth’s surface directly below the Moon. preserved in material ejected by the asteroid collisions. makes it want to fly off the Earth instead of rotate with the planet. Mercury may have had most of its outer crust blasted away. The origin of these local magnetic fields is unknown.

The variations that naturally occur in the level between successive high tide and low tide are referred to as the range of tide. © Microsoft Corporation. When a dome of water passes a place on the Earth. The hitherto unseen far side of the Moon was first revealed to the world in October 1959 through photographs made by the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft. The capsule had a weighted base. All Rights Reserved. the average length of a lunar day being 24 hours. that place experiences a rise in the level of the ocean water. Low and high tides alternate in a continuous cycle. The lowest water level reached between successive high tides is known as low tide or low water. Craters are now known to cover the entire Moon. In . One of these high tides is caused by the direct-tide dome and the other by the opposite-tide dome. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. known as high tide or high water.Moon missions compensate as much for the water’s inertia on the far side. Between successive high tides the water level drops. 50 minutes. As the Earth rotates throughout the day. then released a small capsule. Two successive high tides or low tides are generally of about the same height. VII LUNAR EXPLORATION Luna Lander Missions 9 and 13 of the Soviet Luna program landed on the moon. visual exploration with powerful telescopes yielded fairly comprehensive knowledge of the geography of the visible side of the Moon. so another dome of water rises on this side of the Earth. These photographs showed that the far side of the Moon is similar to the near side except for the absence of large maria. At most shores throughout the world. the domes of water remain aligned with the Moon and travel around the globe. The dome of water directly beneath the Moon is called direct tide. exposing a television camera and communications antennas. and 28 seconds. It then opened its flaps. and the dome of water on the opposite side of the Earth is called opposite tide. two high tides and two low tides occur every lunar day. so it rolled upright.

as shown here. took thousands of photographs. 15. The astronauts explored increasingly wider areas on the Moon with each successive flight. The successful landings of the robotic U. friction. the Moon’s magnetic field and gravity. 16. spacecraft—Ranger 7 through 9 and Lunar Orbiter 1 through 5—further supported these conclusions. These instruments measured temperature and gas pressure at the lunar surface. The Apollo astronauts collected rocks. molecules and ions of hot gases. culminating with the 35 km (22 mi) explored using a lunar roving vehicle by the Apollo 17 crew. seismic vibrations of the lunar surface caused by landslides. meteorite impacts. . while the return trip is indicated by a blue line. and the precise distance between Earth and the Moon. made direct measurement of the physical and chemical properties of the lunar surface a reality ( see Space Exploration). that stream out from the atmosphere of the Sun. and 17—returned samples of rock and soil to Earth. 14. © Microsoft Corporation. Harrison (Jack) Schmitt. and then the manned landings on the lunar surface as part of the U. carefully timed series of stages. The entire Moon has about 3 trillion craters larger than 1 m (3 ft) in diameter. and set up instruments on the Moon that radioed information back to Earth even after the astronauts departed. This final mission included the only geologist ever to walk on the Moon. All six manned landings on the Moon—Apollo 11. 12. distance. The journey to the Moon is shown as a yellow line.Moon missions 1964 and 1966 photographs from U. and so on. Traveling to the Moon and Back The Apollo 11 mission to the Moon involved a complicated. heat flow from the Moon’s interior.S. called the solar wind. These samples weighed a total of 384 kg (847 lb). Apollo program. All Rights Reserved. and so-called moonquakes.S. gravitational pull. Analysis of the data and rocks obtained by the lunar missions continues. Space travel would be impossible without precise mathematical calculations of acceleration. Surveyor series spacecraft and the USSR Luna series in the 1960s.S.

NASA In 1994. They ended Prospector’s mission by programming it to crash into the Moon’s surface and then observed the cloud of debris that rose from the impact. This famous photo of Earth was taken by astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission as they orbited the Moon in 1968. ancient basins that make up the structural framework of the Moon.Moon missions Earth from the Moon In the late 1960s. finding that the Moon’s crust is indeed made of a low-iron. people saw for the first time what Earth looked like from space. low-density rock called anorthosite and mapping the large. NASA sent a spacecraft of its own. The spacecraft mapped the gravitational field of the Moon. Clementine also discovered possible evidence of ice on the Moon in the permanently dark areas near the south pole. Scientists used the spacecraft right up to its final moments. From Clementine data. Lunar Prospector orbited around the Moon’s north and south poles and returned data until July 1999. to the Moon in 1998. determined the distribution of radioactive elements in its crust. an orbiter called Lunar Prospector. mapping the color and precise altitude of the lunar surface. . astronomers obtained their first global look at the topography and mineralogy of the Moon. and found additional evidence that could indicate the presence of ice at the lunar poles. the joint Defense Department/NASA spacecraft Clementine orbited the Moon for 71 days.

In addition. Jr. the two men planted the United States flag. Aldrin.Moon missions First Steps on the Moon Apollo 11 crewmen Neil A. took their first historic steps on the moon on July 20. The solar-powered orbiter used an innovative form of ion propulsion. Earth-based telescopes studied the composition of the debris thrown up by the impact. Armstrong and Edwin E. collected 22 kg (49 lb) of lunar rocks and soil. Aldrin followed him 20 minutes later. Armstrong is shown here stepping off the lunar module (LM). During their 2 hours 31 minutes outside the LM. called SMART-1 (Small Missions for Advanced Research and Technology).. the probe was deliberately crashed into the lunar surface. and deployed scientific equipment to study the solar wind and measure seismic tremors in the moon's interior and on its surface. At the end of its mission in 2006. shown here. they collected . astronauts explored the rugged Taurus-Littrow region of the moon. Lunar Landscape During the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The astronauts spent 22 hours touring 35 km (22 mi) of the area in a lunar rover. Archive Films In 2003 the European Space Agency (ESA) launched it first lunar probe. 1969. It carried a number of instruments to study the chemical elements that make up the Moon’s surface.

Possible future missions may include sample returns from the lunar surface. much still remains mysterious. The first step toward a return to manned exploration of the Moon came in 2006 with NASA’s official announcement of the design and contractor for the Orion space capsule. carrying six different instruments. sending up a plume of debris that could reveal water ice. It will see into permanently shadowed areas at the poles and can distinguish the radar signature of ice from surface roughness. The main probe will map small areas of the Moon’s surface in high resolution. A crew of four will reach the Moon in an Orion capsule accompanied by a lunar lander. M3 (pronounced ―em cube‖) is a highly advanced imaging spectrometer designed to map the entire lunar surface to study its mineral composition. The four astronauts will land on the surface and spend about a week on the Moon. It is named for the fairy maiden Chang’e. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is slated for launch in 2008. NASA has proposed a series of unmanned Moon probes over the next decade. part of the Constellation program of manned space flights. India’s first Moon mission. The orbiting probe will carry European scientific instruments and two instruments provided by NASA. with an unmanned cargo mission in 2019. The upper stage of the probe’s booster rocket will impact Shackleton Crater at the south pole. was launched in 2007. The Apollo 17 mission was the last lunar flight with a crew. NASA An ambitious series of international Moon probes have been planned. The LCROSS satellite will study the plume for signs of ice then crash into the crater itself. Mini SAR is an imaging radar device designed to map the lunar poles and look for water ice. probably near the lunar south pole. Also on board will be a small. is scheduled for launch in 2008. Although much has been learned about the Moon in the past few decades. the Chinese probe will send back photos and data about the Moon. 1 (pronounced CHAHNG-UH). The Chinese are working with Russian experts to build a robot Moon lander for launch by 2010. The orbiter’s propulsion unit will later separate and land on the lunar surface. leading to a manned landing by 2020. China’s first Moon probe. The orbiter will map the Moon and deploy a small satellite to study the gravitational field on the far side of the Moon. separate satellite called LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite). meaning ―Moon craft‖ in Sanskrit). First. who traveled to the Moon in Chinese mythology. Understanding the Moon and its history is important for two reasons. By 2024 a permanent Moon base may be established. called Chandrayaan-1 (pronounced CHUN-dry-ahn.Moon missions more than 109 kg (243 lb) of rock samples for scientific analysis. Plans call for a lunar landing in 2020. the M3 (Moon Mineralogy Mapper) and the Mini SAR (Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar). the Moon is a natural laboratory to study the geological processes—meteorite impacts. volcanism. China has also announced plans for manned flights to the Moon for sometime after 2020. Based on the design of the Dongfanghong-3 communications satellite. the lunar orbiter Chang’e No. creating a second impact for observers on Earth. Japan launched its SELENE (SELenological and ENgineering Explorer) moon probe in 2007. and large-scale .

the Moon serves as a touchstone. Spudis Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. The impact record. is especially clear on the Moon. the Moon’s ancient surface retains a record of events in this part of the solar system that has been erased from the much more active.Moon missions movements of the crust—that have shaped all of the rocky planets. allowing us to better comprehend the complex stories of all the planets in our solar system. All rights reserved. dynamic surface of Earth. which has been almost entirely erased on Earth. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. Thus. . Second. and may contain important clues to the history of life on Earth. Reviewed By: Paul D.

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