Today we turn to what has changed in our ideas about the only (constant) natural satellite of the Earth since the dawn of the space epoch.
Four decades later, after a man first landed on the moon, a whole bunch of things happened! Several programs and vehicles have changed, international missions travel through space, and unmanned ships explore the solar system. Over the past 20 years, NASA has not paid much attention to the Moon, but with the help of the Lunar Orbital Probe (LRO) over the past ten years we have collected a lot of information about it.
During the years of observation, we found out that the moon is not as cold, dead as the world seemed to us when Apollo's astronauts left traces on it from 1969 to 1972. The moon is not the same! Here are some great things we learned.
The moon shrinks under the influence of the Earth
Five years ago, studying footage from the LRO (Lunar Orbital Probe) Narrow-Angle Camera, scientists found 14 rocks all over the surface, similar to those seventy that were in the Apollo images. These “blade-shaped ledges” led scientists to believe that the moon shrinks as it cools. Over the past few years, thousands of such ledges have been discovered, and their location suggests that they are formed in accordance with the tidal attraction of the Earth.
Cave and pit everywhere
It turns out that the surface of the moon is speckled with more than two hundred pits of 900 meters (984 yards) in diameter. The first three were found by the Japanese “Kaguya” apparatus, the rest were calculated using a computer algorithm from LRO images. As they formed, it is unclear, perhaps, remained from the outcrops of lava to the surface. Perhaps future researchers could use this to protect against radiation and micrometeorites.
Collision traces echo in stone
This is what we have learned over the decades about how the moon appeared: a huge celestial body (about the size of Mars) crashed into our planet. Obviously, because of this, debris flew into space. The collision of these debris and the moon was formed. Last year, scientists were able to pre-identify the trail of the striking body, sometimes called Thea, inside the lunar stones. It turned out that the content of oxygen isotopes in samples collected at three Apollo bases differs significantly from that on Earth.
Prediction of meteoric impacts
Craters dot the entire solar system, but what is remarkable: the frequency of their appearance on the surface of the planets is not the same, depending on where you are. Sometimes stones burn in the atmosphere. Sometimes this position of an object (say, the center or periphery of the Solar System) influences how frequent meteor showers are. One of the tasks of LRO is to predict the frequency of craters on the surface of the moon.
There is ice on the moon
It turned out that the moon is not such a dead dry place, there is some water ice there. It is not enough - even less than in the desert - but it is. The main question is whether it is enough to provide a lunar colony. Earlier this year, LRO discovered that hydrogen (a sign of water) is more common in the study region, and this was the southern hemisphere, on the slopes facing the pole. Maps made by him will be key when choosing places for future human settlements.