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Moon

The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits Earth as its only natural satellite. It is the fifth-largest satellite in the Solar System, and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits (its primary). The Moon is, after Jupiter's satellite Io, the second-densest satellite in the Solar System among those whose densities are known. The Moon is thought to have formed about 4.51 billion years ago, not long after Earth. The most widely accepted explanation is that the Moon formed from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia. New research of Moon rocks, although not rejecting the Theia hypothesis, suggests that the Moon may be older than previously thought. The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, and thus always shows the same side to Earth, the near side. The near side is marked by dark volcanic maria that fill the spaces between the bright ancient crustal highlands and the prominent impact craters. After the Sun, the Moon is the second-brightest regularly visible celestial object in Earth's sky. Its surface is actually dark, although compared to the night sky it appears very bright, with a reflectance just slightly higher than that of worn asphalt. Its gravitational influence produces the ocean tides, body tides, and the slight lengthening of the day. The Moon's average orbital distance is 384,402 km (238,856 mi), or 1.28 light-seconds. This is about thirty times the diameter of Earth. The Moon's apparent size in the sky is almost the same as that of the Sun, since the star is about 400 times the lunar distance and diameter. Therefore, the Moon covers the Sun nearly precisely during a total solar eclipse. This matching of apparent visual size will not continue in the far future because the Moon's distance from Earth is gradually increasing.

Artemis I – Flight Day Eight: Orion Exits the Lunar Sphere Of Influence

“On the eighth day of its mission, Orion continues to travel farther away from the Moon as it prepares to enter a distant retrograde orbit. The orbit is “distant” in the sense that it’s at a high altitude from …

Liftoff! NASA’s Artemis I Mega Rocket Launches Orion to Moon

“Following a successful launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world, the agency’s Orion spacecraft is on its way to the Moon as part of the Artemis program. Carrying an uncrewed Orion …

How 2 astrophotographers teamed up to capture a stellar image of the moon

“Two astrophotographers have teamed up to produce an out-of-this-world photo of the moon, capturing over 200,000 shots to create a single image. Andrew McCarthy and Connor Matherne collaborated last November to push their photography skills to the limit. Their …

NASA Selects Draper to Fly Research to Far Side of Moon

“NASA has awarded Draper of Cambridge, Massachusetts a contract to deliver Artemis science investigations to the Moon in 2025. The commercial delivery is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative under Artemis. Draper will receive $73 million …

NASA’s tiny CAPSTONE probe aces 1st engine burn en route to the moon

“CAPSTONE has bounced back from its recent communication dropout. NASA’s little CAPSTONE moon probe has bounced back from its recent hiccup. The 55-pound (25 kilograms) CAPSTONE successfully performed its first engine burn today (July 7), an 11-minute maneuver that …

Scientists Grow Plants in Lunar Soil

“NASA-funded study breaks new ground in plant research In the early days of the space age, the Apollo astronauts took part in a visionary plan: Bring samples of the lunar surface material, known as regolith, back to Earth where …

NASA is cracking open a 50-year-old Apollo 17 moon rock sample for Artemis prep

“Nearly 50 years after Apollo 17 astronauts collected rocks from the lunar surface, NASA is finally tapping their samples as it prepares for new missions to the moon. NASA set aside the Apollo 17 moon rock samples to preserve the …

The Moon’s farside has sticky soil, Yutu-2 finds

“The dirt tends to get stuck to the rover’s wheels in clods, but hasn’t hindered the rover yet. The farside of the Moon is a far different place from the nearside. It has a more rugged surface, chock-full …

Opening a 50-year-old Christmas present from the Moon

“A pretty special gift unwrapping will soon take place – a piercing tool built by ESA will open a Moon soil container from Apollo 17 that has gone untouched for nearly 50 years. The opening will allow the extraction of precious …

China moon rover will investigate cube-shaped ‘mystery’ object on lunar far side

“The Yutu-2 rover is on a roll. It’s been exploring the far side of the moon since early 2019 as part of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander mission. It now has its eyes set on a strange-looking cube-shaped …