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Moon: NASA's Lunar Portal
Moon Facts
Moon Fact
Shaping the Moon

Between 4.5 and 4.3 billion years ago, a giant object hit the moon near its south pole and formed the South Pole-Aitken Basin, one of the two largest proven impact basins in the solar system.

Two NASA LRO Videos: "Evolution of the Moon" and "A Tour of the Moon."

EYES on LADEE: Explore the Moon in 3D
Moon Facts
Genesis Rock

The age of the oldest rock collected by the Apollo astronauts is 4.5 billion years old.

A Closer Look

This close-up image of the lunar surface is from the Luna 9 lander in the Oceanus Procellarum. This is the first image from the surface of the moon.

Familiar Face

Only about 59 percent of the moon's surface is visible to us here on Earth.

Moon Day

A lunar day (or the time it takes from sunrise to sunrise) on the moon is approximately 708 hours.

Lunar Mascons

Mass is not distributed uniformly inside the moon. Large mass concentrations ("mascons") lie beneath the surface of many large lunar basins and probably represent thick accumulations of dense lava. Relative to its geometric center, the moon's center of mass is displaced toward Earth by several kilometers.

Our Drifting Moon

Did you know the moon is moving away from the Earth at a rate of 1.5 inches per year?

Read More

Surface Boundary Exosphere

The atmosphere of the moon, called a surface boundary exosphere, is likely the same type of atmosphere found on many other planets.

Moon Gods

Most ancient religions had a moon god or goddess. One Roman moon goddess was named Luna, and this is why many modern words associated with the moon have "Luna" as their root.

Snow Moon

Native Americans referred to February's full moon as "Snow Moon." This is due to the cold and snowy weather typically found during the month of February.

How the Moon Was Formed

The moon was formed ~4.5 billion years ago (about 30-50 million years after the origin of our solar system) out of debris thrown into orbit by a massive collision between a smaller proto-Earth and another planetoid, about the size of Mars.

Long Road

It would take 135 days to drive by car to the moon at 70 mph.

Lunar Celebration

The ancient Chinese greeted solar eclipses by using noisemakers and by shooting arrows toward the heavens.

Long Gone

There are no active volcanoes on the moon now. The moon's volcanoes have been extinct for billions of years.

Super Harvest Moon

September's full moon is referred to as the "Harvest Moon" because it occurs during harvest-time. The next "super" harvest moon will not occur until 2029.

Hot Rocks

All moon rocks originated through high-temperature processes with little or no involvement with water.

Heavyweight

Total weight: of the moon is 74 sextillion km (that's 81 quintillion tons).

Moon Water

In 2009, orbiting spacecraft discovered water molecules on the moon.

First Interaction with the Moon

In 1940, the Diana Project was the first experiment to successfully bounce radio signals off the moon.

Common Thread

Scientists think that a large object, perhaps the size of Mars, impacted our young planet and knocked out a chunk of material that eventually became our moon. Distinctive oxygen isotopic compositions of moon rocks and Earth rocks show a common ancestry.

Is There an Atmosphere on the Moon?

Relative to Earth, the moon is highly depleted in iron and in volatile elements that are needed to form atmospheric gases and water. However, there is an atmosphere.

Tiny Temblors

"Moonquakes" are millions of times less powerful than earthquakes.

Inverted Moon

As the astronomical telescope with its inverted image came into use, astronomers adopted the habit of representing the way they saw the moon -- upside down. This practice was followed until very recently. Lunar images are now constructed and stored digitally and can be displayed at any orientation. The moon is now typically shown right side up.

Perfect Crater

Linné crater is extremely young, and to a scientist's eye pretty close to perfect. Linné is a beautifully preserved young mare crater.

NASA's Planetary CSI: Crater Science Investigations: Linné Crater

The Moon Festival

Did you know the Chinese and Vietnamese have a festival each year to celebrate the moon?

Friendly Face

Many of us see a man in the moon -- a human face smiling down at us from the lunar surface. Scientists say the fact that we see a face may be the result of the rate at which the moon slowed down before becoming locked into its current orientation.

Who's the Bunny Girl on the Moon?

Apollo 11 Buzz Aldrin to Mission Control, "Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl."

What was he talking about?

Find out here.

Bright Names

The light, rugged highlands of the moon are called the "terrae."

Moon Rocks

Rocks from the moon are similar to three kinds of igneous rocks that are found here on Earth: basalt, anorthosites and breccias.

Space Face

Can you spot the face of the man on the moon?

First Step

The first human being walked on the moon on 20 July 1969.

Moon Rocks

Between 1969 and 1972 six Apollo missions brought back 382 kg (842 pounds) of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust from the lunar surface. In addition, three automated Soviet spacecraft returned important samples totaling 300 g (approximately 3/4 pound).

Massive Impact Basin

Did you know the largest impact basin in the Earth-moon system is the South-Pole-Aitken basin on the moon measuring 2,500 km in diameter?

Earth Lashing

Every month when the moon gets a lashing from Earth's magnetic tail. This has consequences ranging from lunar "dust storms" to electrostatic discharges.

Moonquakes

There are two types of earthquakes that happen on the moon: deep moonquakes and shallow moonquakes.

Prince of Tides

There are two high tides and two low tides every day on every beach on Earth. This is due to the moon's pull.

Orange Rocks on the Moon

How did orange soil appear on the moon? This mystery began when astronaut Harrison Schmidt noticed the off-color patch near Apollo 17's Taurus-Littrow landing site in 1972. Astronauts scooped up some of the unusual orange soil for inspection back on Earth. Lunar geologists now think that the orange soil was created during an ancient fire-fountain.

Once in a Blue Moon

About every 2.5 years an extra full moon, called a "Blue Moon" occurs.

The term Blue Moon is believed to have originated in 1883 after the eruption of Krakatoa. The volcano put so much dust in the atmosphere that the moon actually looked blue in color. This was so unusual that the term "once in a Blue Moon" was coined.

Moon Dust

The moon's surface is covered by a pile of rock fragments and dust called lunar regolith. The thickness of the regolith varies from about 5 m on mare surfaces to about 10 m on highland surfaces.

Moon Phase Simulator

Interested in learning more about the phases of the moon?

Try the University of Nebraska's Lunar Phases Simulator.

Communication with LADEE

Unlike past missions, LADEE will be using lasers instead of radio waves to communicate with mission control.

Ancient Rocks

Moon-rock ages range from about 3.2 billion years in the maria (dark, low basins) to nearly 4.6 billion years in the terrae (light, rugged highlands). Active geologic forces, including plate tectonics and erosion, continuously repave the oldest surfaces on Earth whereas old surfaces persist with little disturbance on the moon.

Weightless? Not Quite

Gravity on the moon is only 1/6 of that found on Earth.

Original Rocks

The rocks of the terrae (the light colored, rugged highlands of the moon) are nearly 4.6 billion years old.

Constant Companion

It takes about a month for the moon to orbit Earth (27.3 days to complete a revolution, but 29.5 days to change phases from new moon to new moon).

Moon Phases

Full moons occur every 29.5 days. The moon keeps the same side to us, but not always the same face. Because of the tilt and shape of its orbit, observers see the moon from slightly different angles over the course of a month.

The Wolf Moon

When the snows were deep in January, wolf packs would often howl near Native American villages, prompting the title "full wolf moon" for the first full moon in January (according to climatologist Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University).

Even Dozen

Only 12 people have ever walked on the surface of the moon.

Mighty Minotaur

LADEE will be launched on an five-stage Minotaur V rocket. The first three stages of the Minotaur V are former Peacekeeper ballistic solid rocket motors. The fourth and fifth stages are commercial motors.

Mercury to Apollo

Although three of the original Mercury 7 astronauts flew in the Apollo program, only one, Alan Shepard, walked on the moon. Shepard was the first American in space.

Deep Impact

The moon's deepest craters are 4,500 m (15,000 feet). The South Pole-Aitken basin on the moon is an abyss that could engulf the United States from the East Coast through Texas.

Don't Forget Your Space Suit

The moon is 239,000 miles away from the Earth. It would take almost nine years to walk there.

Earthrise

Seeing the Earth rise from the moon never gets old.

The Moon's Earth-like Core

Research suggests the moon possesses a solid, iron-rich inner core with a radius of nearly 150 miles and a fluid, primarily liquid-iron outer core with a radius of roughly 205 miles. Where it differs from Earth is a partially molten boundary layer around the core estimated to have a radius of nearly 300 miles.

One Small Step ...

In 2009, a NASA team restored the first grainy video of Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon.

Stuffed Crust

The crust on the far side of the moon is thicker than the crust on the near side.

The far side highlands appear to have formed early in the moon's history, when a magma ocean (shaped by tides caused by Earth's gravity) heated the moon's floating crust non-uniformly. Since then, the magma ocean has solidified.

Out of Shape

The moon is not round, but is in fact egg-shaped with the large end pointed towards Earth.

Seeing Seas

The face of the moon is marked by regions, called mare (Latin for "sea"). Galileo, who thought the dark featureless areas were bodies of water, named these regions. We now know them to be basalt (a type of lava) filled impact basins.

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