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Moons of our Solar System
Moons of our Solar System

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2.2 Weighing objects on the Moon

The hammer and feather experiment from the Apollo 15 mission.
Figure 7 The hammer and feather experiment from the Apollo 15 mission.

Because the force of gravity experienced at the Moon’s surface is around one sixth of the surface of the Earth, try to work out how much the following items would weigh on the Moon.

  • A Yourself
  • B A bag of flour (typically 1.5 kg)
  • C The largest Moon rock returned to Earth (11.7 kg)
  • D The spacesuit worn on the first Apollo missions (96.2 kg)

In each case your answer should be the weight on Earth divided by six. We don’t know your weight on Earth, so we can’t tell you the answer to A, but B a 1.5 kg bag of flour taken to the Moon would weigh 1.5 kg/6 = 0.25 kg, C the 11.7 kg rock would weigh 11.7 kg/6 = 1.95 kg, and D the spacesuit would weigh 96.2 kg/6 = 16.03 kg. (Note: we are well aware that in scientific usage kg is a measure of mass, not of weight. You should be too if you have studied science before. If you want to be strictly correct, ‘Weight in kg on the Moon’ should be taken to mean ‘The mass in kg on Earth that would have the same weight (on Earth) as this mass does on the Moon’.)

If you want to take this further, find out what it would be like to play sports on the Moon by competing in the Moon Olympics [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .