Earth’s Neighbor

You may think of the Moon as old news.  It’s extremely close to Earth, and we’ve been studying it for centuries.  Human beings have landed there and brought back samples.  What more is there to learn?  A great deal, it turns out.

Image courtesy of wpclipart.com

First of all, where the heck did it come from?  Scientists developed a workable theory on that within the last few decades, but unlike evolution this theory is still open to debate (click here for the Giant Impact Theory).  Also, why does the far side look completely different from the side facing Earth?  A theory explaining that was first published only last year (click here for the Double Moon Theory).  Lastly, although we’ve studied the surface of the Moon in great detail, we have no idea what’s inside.

As planet Earth rang in the New Year, a pair of NASA spacecraft entered lunar orbit to begin finding some answers.  The probes, named Grail-A and Grail-B, will orbit the Moon, making detailed measurements of the Moon’s gravitational field.  From that data, researchers say they can map the Moon’s interior.

Seeing the inside of the Moon should give us a much clearer idea of how the Moon formed and changed over it’s history.  It will answer a lot of questions.  It will probably raise a lot of new questions too when we find things we weren’t expecting.  Click here for more on the Grail mission.

P.S.: Students at participating schools get to take part in the Grail Mission.  For more on that, click here.

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