Traveling to the Moon

Image above courtesy of NASA. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University, published October 29, 2018. It’s a GIF of the Apollo 11 landing site moving from dusk till dawn.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Moon lately for a little project of mine. I thought I’d share some surprising and fun facts about it just in case you or someone you know gets a chance to travel there. (I know, extremely wishful thinking.)

  • The Moon is abnormally large for a planetary satellite. It’s larger than Pluto, for example. It’s 25% of the size of Earth, by far the largest percentage satellite in our solar system.
  • The Moon really does spin, but we only see one side of it because it’s spin rate is exactly the same as its rate of revolution around Earth. This is called tidal locking.
  • There is ice on the Moon. No one knows how much, but you can bet that when we do colonize the Moon it will be a precious resource.
  • Temperatures on the Moon are harsh. 260 degrees F in the sunlight and minus 280 degrees F in the shadow. This is exactly what Earth would be like without our nurturing atmosphere.
  • Having said that, there is actually oxygen on the Moon! The moon’s small mass and low gravity  prevents it from keeping hold of even a tenuously thin atmosphere. But oxygen needn’t exist only in gaseous form above the ground. It can also be entrained safely in certain kinds of rocks. Gather the rubble and either treat it with chemicals or blast it with heat, and you can free up unlimited quantities of oxygen both for breathing and for rocket fuel.
  • The side of the moon that perpetually faces Earth is known as the near side. The opposite or “back” side is the far side. Sometimes the far side is called the “dark side of the moon”, but this is inaccurate. When the moon is between the Earth and the sun, during the new moon phase, the back side of the moon is bathed in daylight.

One more fun thought. In my eleven years working for a certain energy company in San Diego I traveled approximately 200,000 miles on my daily drives. Not quite enough to get to the Moon (240,000 miles away), but pretty impressive nonetheless.

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