The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite that was formed 4.5 billion years ago from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and Theia (a Mars sized body). A dense cloud of the vaporized rock was kicked up and went into orbit around the Earth. Eventually, the cloud cooled and condensed into a ring of small solid bodies which further gathered together, forming the Earth’s moon.
That’s all about the birth of the Moon. There are many things that you still don’t know about our moon. Presenting some of the most interesting, unknown facts and the mystery that is worth a closer look.
17. You would weigh less on the Moon
We all know Moon has much weaker gravity as compared to Earth. If we talk in exact figures, you would weigh 16.5% (1/6) of your weight on Earth. That’s the reason lunar astronauts could leap and bound so high there.
16. Size Comparison to the other Moons in the Solar System
There are 4 other moons in the solar system that are bigger than Earth’s moon. The largest is Ganymede (near Jupiter), which is actually bigger than Pluto or Mercury. The other bigger ones are Titan (near Saturn), Callisto (near Jupiter) and Io (near Jupiter).
15. Moon Dust
Dust tends to hover above the surface around sunset and sunrise on the Moon. The exact reason behind the dust is still unclear. This might have something to do with particle being electrically charged or other phenomenon at work.
14. Rise and Fall of Tides
The rise and fall of tides on Earth are caused by the Moon. There are 2 bulges in the Earth because of gravitational pull that the Moon exerts.
1) The side facing the Moon
2) and the opposite side that faces away from the moon
These bulges move around the ocean as the Earth rotates which causes low and high tides.
13. No Atmosphere
The gravity on the Moon’s surface is small and so does the escape velocity. The value of r.m.s velocity of the molecule of the different gases is much more than the escape velocity. That’s why all molecules of gases escaped, leaving no atmosphere on the moon.
No atmosphere means the surface of the moon is unprotected from solar winds, cosmic rays and meteorites. It also has a huge temperature variation, no sound can travel from one place to another and the sky always appears black.
12. The Moon has an Exosphere
The Moon has very weak and sketchy atmosphere called Exosphere. NASA’s LADEE project discovered that it is mostly made up of helium, neon and argon. The helium and neon come from Sun’s continuous stream of particles and argon is generated by natural, radioactive decay of potassium in the Moon’s interior.
11. Water on the Moon
It seems quite surprising as the moon has practically no atmosphere, but it is true. The water is present in the solid form, lurking in shadowed craters, and potentially below the soil itself. The water molecules may have been deposited by comets or blown in by the solar wind.
10. The Moon and Sleep Cycle
The Earth’s effects on Moon and vice versa can’t be denied. However, the effect of Moon on humans remains a source of debate. Many believe that the Moon affects our sleeping-behavior. According to the University of Basel, Switzerland, the phases of Moon disturb human sleep cycle in a measurable way – people experience better sleep during new Moon and worst sleep during a full Moon. Although, Science hasn’t been able to prove this yet.
9. Shape of the Moon
The Moon isn’t round, it’s actually shaped like an egg. It looks spherical from here because one of its smaller ends with a circular silhouette faces us.
Scientists say that Earth’s strong gravity tugged the newborn moon into its oddball shape.
8. The Earth also goes through phases when seen from the Moon
Image credit: Nasa
It is last quarter Earth, when we are seeing a first quarter moon; It’s full Earth when it is new Moon for us and so on. That means phases seen from the Moon are exactly opposite to the lunar phases.
From any spot on the moon (side of the Moon towards the Earth), the Earth would always be in the same place in the sky. From there, Earth appears 4 times larges and 45-100 times brighter than the full Moon appears to us. The brightness depends on the state of the atmosphere in the Moon.
Also, eclipses are reversed when viewing from the Moon. An eclipse of the moon for us is the eclipse of the sun from the Moon. From there, you will see the disk of the Earth blocking out the Sun.
7. Moon Trash
The astronauts who visited the Moon managed to leave a bit of waste behind. In particular, there is around 181,440 kilograms of man-made material lying around the Moon. This includes over 70 spacecraft including modules, rovers and crashed orbiters. There is also some real waste like astronaut poop container, empty packages of space food, personal hygiene kits etc.
6. No Man Has Been to the Moon Since 1972
Till date, only 12 people (all American males) have walked on the Moon. Eugene Cernan was the last man who walked on the Moon on the Apollo 17 mission. Since then only unmanned vehicles have been sent over there.
However, NASA is planning to send their astronauts again (before 2020) to explore the surface of the Moon. This time they are going to stay and building outposts. The 21st century exploration system will be reliable, affordable, versatile and safe.
5. Moon is Drifting Away from Us
The moon is moving 3.78cm (approx. value) away from the Earth every year and it will continue to do so for around next 50 billion years. By the time it happens, Moon will be taking 47 days to orbit the Earth (current orbital period is 27.3 days).
4. Moon’s Internet Connection
Not happy with your internet connection? There is a simple solution – pack your bags and move to the Moon.
NASA has set a new record for communication in space by beaming a WiFi connection over there, which has 19 Mbps download speed. They able to achieve blistering connection using lasers instead of radio waves to transmit data between its ground station (in Mexico) and a spacecraft orbiting the moon 239,000 miles away.
3. Apollo 11 Left Some Sentimental Mementos on the Moon
Along with their backpacks and an American flag Apollo 11 astronauts left some sentimental mementos on the surface of the Moon.
1) A small gold pin as a peace symbol.
2) Goodwill messages from 73 world leaders.
3) A patch from the failed/never-launched Apollo 1 mission.
4) Medals commemorating pioneering Soviet cosmonauts, who had died in flight in 1967 and 1968.
The moon is a dead hunk of rocks with very little geological activity, still it is prone to shaking fits. The earthquake-like tremors are called moonquakes. They are much weaker than largest earthquakes but they can last up to an hour.
There are 4 types of moonquakes:
1) Deep moonquakes
2) Vibrations from meteorite impacts
3) Thermal moonquakes
4) Shallow moonquakes
The first 3 tends to be mild, however, Shallow quakes can register up to 5.5 on Richter scale.
1. USA considered Detonating a Nuclear Bomb on the Moon
During the 1950’s the United States of America planned to blow up a nuclear bomb on the Moon as a demonstration of country’s strength during the cold war space race. This was a top secret project called “A Study of Lunar Research Flights” also known as “Project A119”.
The project was never carried out but meant to alarm the Soviet Union after their launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, which demonstrated their technological strength.
- The Moon always keeps the same side towards the Earth.
- Buzz Aldrin was the first man to pee on the moon.
- Before humans, tortoises were sent to the moon to test a Russian Space Probe.
- Your Smartphone has more computing power than the computer used for Apollo 11 moon landing.
- If the Earth didn’t have the moon, days (on Earth) would be only six hours long.