A lot of research is being done on the moon. The moon is the closest non-earth body, and it is being considered as a staging area for space flights to other celestial bodies. One serious problem with space-flight today is that one rocket is used to travel from the earth to other bodies, and a relatively heavy amount of fuel is needed to escape from the gravity pull of earth. If the moon were used as a staging area, two rockets would be used, one to go from earth to the moon, and a second one to go from the moon to other celestial bodies. The first rocket would be smaller, because the amount of fuel needed to escape from the gravity of the moon would be significantly less since the gravity of the moon is about 1/6 that of the earth. The second rocket, traveling from the moon to other bodies, would be even smaller and less expensive, and these rockets could carry heaver payloads.
In addition to being a staging area, the moon might be a source of minerals and water, and research is investigating these possibilities.
The moon is not inhabited today, but it has been inhabited in the past for brief periods, and it might be permanently inhabited in the future.
Other science articles about the moon follow.
NASA and international researchers have discovered that Earth's moon has more in common than previously thought with large asteroids roaming our solar system.
Astrobotic Technology Inc. has completed assembly of a full-size prototype of Polaris, a solar-powered robot that will search for potentially rich deposits of water ice at the moon's poles. The first of its kind, Polaris can [will be able to] accommodate a drill to bore one meter into the lunar surface and can operate in lunar regions characterized by dark, long shadows and a sun that hugs the horizon.
This is the culmination of a complex, two-year journey that relied predominantly on gravity boosts and used minimal fuel. The path from its orbit around Earth to the moon was developed and orchestrated by engineers at the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif., and University of California at Berkeley.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Wide Angle Camera (WAC) is imaging the surface in seven different wavelengths at a resolution of between 100 and 400 metres per pixel. Specific minerals reflect or absorb strongly certain parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, so the wavelengths detected by LROC WAC help scientists better understand the chemical composition of the lunar surface.
In the giant-collision scenario, computer simulations suggest that the moon had two parents: Earth and a hypothetical planetary body that scientists call "Theia." But a comparative analysis of titanium from the moon, Earth and meteorites, published by Junjun Zhang, graduate student in geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, and four co-authors indicates the moon's material came from Earth alone.
The team of NASA and university scientists using laser light from LRO's laser altimeter examined the floor of Shackleton crater. They found the crater's floor is brighter than those of other nearby craters, which is consistent with the presence of small amounts of ice. This information will help researchers understand crater formation and study other uncharted areas of the moon. The findings are published in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature.
Astronauts first visited the moon on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong landed the Apollo 11 lunar module and and said, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." A few more visits to the moon were made, but no visits have been made for about 30 years.