Moons of our Solar System
Moons of our Solar System

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Moons of our Solar System

Week 5: What we learned from the Moon


Rocks are the key evidence for the Moon’s story. The meteorite-battered lunar highland rocks are more ancient than anything on Earth, and the ancient volcanoes on the Moon are better preserved than many modern volcanoes on Earth.

Jess introduces the week, which continues the story of the Moon and lets you get up close to Moon rocks using The Open University’s virtual microscope.

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The Apollo 11 landing in 1969 was a defining moment for humanity. It was the first time humans had set foot on another Solar System body. Altogether, the Apollo programme put twelve astronauts on the Moon.
With less computer memory than a modern mobile phone, these guys were able to fly, land, walk on the Moon, and communicate live back to Earth. But sadly, no one has walked on its surface since Apollo 17 in 1972, which was long before I was born.
The story of the Apollo missions is fascinating. But leading up to it, there were a whole series of missions that dispelled some of the earlier myths and hypotheses about our Moon, like the idea that valleys on the Moon had been caused by the flow of water.
So we'll learn what the Apollo astronauts investigated on the Moon, the discoveries, the experiments-- even the golf balls.
We'll also get to examine some of the Moon rocks and dust that they brought back to Earth using a virtual microscope. Between 1969 and 1972, 382 kg of material was brought back to Earth. We'll look at just what all this material has taught us.
See you next week.
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • understand the significance of the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 missions to the Moon, and what was investigated there
  • consider what Moon dust and rocks brought back to the Earth tell us about the Moon.

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