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The Moon is Earth's only proper natural satellite. It is the fifth largest satellite in the Solar System, larger than any dwarf planet and the largest natural satellite in the Solar System relative to the size of its planet, at a quarter the diameter of Earth, comparable to the width of Australia.[13] The Moon orbits Earth at an average lunar distance of 384,400 km (238,900 mi),[14] or 1.28 light-seconds. Its gravitational influence produces Earth's tides and slightly lengthens Earth's day. The Moon is a differentiated rocky body; has a surface gravity of 0.1654 g, about one-sixth of Earth's; and lacks a significant atmosphere, hydrosphere or magnetic field. A planetary-mass moon, it has among satellites with a known density the second highest surface gravity and density in the Solar System after Jupiter's moon Io.

The Moon's orbit around Earth has a sidereal period of 27.3 days, and a synodic period of 29.5 days. The synodic period drives its lunar phases, which form the basis for the months of a lunar calendar. The Moon is tidally locked to Earth, which means that the length of a full rotation of the Moon on its own axis (a lunar day) is the same as the synodic period, resulting in its same side (the near side) always facing Earth. That said, 59% of the total lunar surface can be seen from Earth through shifts in perspective (its libration).[15]

The near side of the Moon is marked by dark volcanic maria ("seas"), which fill the spaces between bright ancient crustal highlands and prominent impact craters. The lunar surface is relatively non-reflective, with a reflectance just slightly brighter than that of worn asphalt. However, because it reflects direct sunlight, is contrasted by the relatively dark sky, and has a large apparent size when viewed from Earth, the Moon is the brightest celestial object in Earth's sky after the Sun. The Moon's apparent size is nearly the same as that of the Sun, allowing it to cover the Sun almost completely during a total solar eclipse.

The first manmade object to reach the Moon was the Soviet Union's Luna 2 uncrewed spacecraft in 1959; this was followed by the first successful soft landing by Luna 9 in 1966. The only human lunar missions to date have been those of the United States' NASA Apollo program, which conducted the first manned lunar orbiting mission with Apollo 8 in 1968, and six human landings from 1969 to 1972: the first being Apollo 11 in July 1969. These missions returned lunar rocks which have been used to develop a detailed geological understanding of the Moon's origins, internal structure, and subsequent history; the most widely accepted origin explanation posits that the Moon formed about 4.51 billion years ago, not long after Earth, out of the debris from a giant impact between the planet and a hypothetical Mars-sized body called Theia.

Both the Moon's natural prominence in the earthly sky and its regular cycle of phases as seen from Earth have provided cultural references and influences for human societies and cultures throughout history. Such cultural influences can be found in language, calendar systems, art, and mythology.

Name and etymology
The Moon, tinted reddish, during a lunar eclipse
During the lunar phases, only portions of the Moon can be observed from Earth.

The usual English proper name for Earth's natural satellite is simply the Moon, with a capital M.[16][17] The noun moon is derived from Old English mōna, which (like all its Germanic cognates) stems from Proto-Germanic *mēnōn,[18] which in turn comes from Proto-Indo-European *mēnsis "month"[19] (from earlier *mēnōt, genitive *mēneses) which may be related to the verb "measure" (of time).[20]

Occasionally, the name Luna /ˈluːnə/ is used in scientific writing[21] and especially in science fiction to distinguish the Earth's moon from others, while in poetry "Luna" has been used to denote personification of Earth's moon.[22] Cynthia /ˈsɪnθiə/ is another poetic name, though rare, for the Moon personified as a goddess,[23] while Selene /səˈliːniː/ (literally "Moon") is the Greek goddess of the Moon.

The usual English adjective pertaining to the Moon is "lunar", derived from the Latin word for the Moon, lūna. The adjective selenian /səliːniən/,[24] derived from the Greek word for the Moon, σελήνη selēnē, and used to describe the Moon as a world rather than as an object in the sky, is rare,[25] while its cognate selenic was originally a rare synonym[26] but now nearly always refers to the chemical element selenium.[27] The Greek word for the Moon does however provide us with the prefix seleno-, as in selenography, the study of the physical features of the Moon, as well as the element name selenium.[28][29]

The Greek goddess of the wilderness and the hunt, Artemis, equated with the Roman Diana, one of whose symbols was the Moon and who was often regarded as the goddess of the Moon, was also called Cynthia, from her legendary birthplace on Mount Cynthus.[30] These names – Luna, Cynthia and Selene – are reflected in technical terms for lunar orbits such as apolune, pericynthion and selenocentric.
The Moon
Near side of the Moon
Far side of the Moon
Lunar north pole
Lunar south pole
Formation
Main articles: Origin of the Moon, Giant-impact hypothesis, and Circumplanetary disk

The Moon formed 4.51 billion years ago,[f] or even 100 million years earlier, some 50 million years after the origin of the Solar System, as new research suggests.[31] Several forming mechanisms have been proposed,[32] including the fission of the Moon from Earth's crust through centrifugal force[33] (which would require too great an initial rotation rate of Earth),[34] the gravitational capture of a pre-formed Moon[35] (which would require an unfeasibly extended atmosphere of Earth to dissipate the energy of the passing Moon),[34] and the co-formation of Earth and the Moon together in the primordial accretion disk (which does not explain the depletion of metals in the Moon).[34] These hypotheses also cannot account for the high angular momentum of the Earth–Moon system.[36]
File:Evolution of the Moon.ogvPlay media
The evolution of the Moon and a tour of the Moon

The prevailing hypothesis is that the Earth–Moon system formed after a giant impact of a Mars-sized body (named Theia) with the proto-Earth. The impact blasted material into Earth's orbit and then the material accreted and formed the Moon.[37][38]

The Moon's far side has a crust that is 50 km (31 mi) thicker than that of the near side. This is thought to be because the Moon fused from two different bodies.

This hypothesis, although not perfect, perhaps best explains the evidence. Eighteen months prior to an October 1984 conference on lunar origins, Bill Hartmann, Roger Phillips, and Jeff Taylor challenged fellow lunar scientists: "You have eighteen months. Go back to your Apollo data, go back to your computer, do whatever you have to, but make up your mind. Don't come to our conference unless you have something to say about the Moon's birth." At the 1984 conference at Kona, Hawaii, the giant impact hypothesis emerged as the most consensual theory.

Before the conference, there were partisans of the three "traditional" theories, plus a few people who were starting to take the giant impact seriously, and there was a huge apathetic middle who didn't think the debate would ever be resolved. Afterward, there were essentially only two groups: the giant impact camp and the agnostics.[39]

Giant impacts are thought to have been common in the early Solar System. Computer simulations of giant impacts have produced results that are consistent with the mass of the lunar core and the angular momentum of the Earth–Moon system. These simulations also show that most of the Moon derived from the impactor, rather than the proto-Earth.[40] However, more recent simulations suggest a larger fraction of the Moon derived from the proto-Earth.[41][42][43][44] Other bodies of the inner Solar System such as Mars and Vesta have, according to meteorites from them, very different oxygen and tungsten isotopic compositions compared to Earth. However, Earth and the Moon have nearly identical isotopic compositions. The isotopic equalization of the Earth-Moon system might be explained by the post-impact mixing of the vaporized material that formed the two,[45] although this is debated.[46]

The impact released a lot of energy and then the released material re-accreted into the Earth–Moon system. This would have melted the outer shell of Earth, and thus formed a magma ocean.[47][48] Similarly, the newly formed Moon would also have been affected and had its own lunar magma ocean; its depth is estimated from about 500 km (300 miles) to 1,737 km (1,079 miles).[47]

While the giant impact hypothesis might explain many lines of evidence, some questions are still unresolved, most of which involve the Moon's composition.[49]
Oceanus Procellarum ("Ocean of Storms")
Ancient rift valleys – rectangular structure (visible – topography – GRAIL gravity gradients)
Ancient rift valleys – context
Ancient rift valleys – closeup (artist's concept)

In 2001, a team at the Carnegie Institute of Washington reported the most precise measurement of the isotopic signatures of lunar rocks.[50] The rocks from the Apollo program had the same isotopic signature as rocks from Earth, differing from almost all other bodies in the Solar System. This observation was unexpected, because most of the material that formed the Moon was thought to come from Theia and it was announced in 2007 that there was less than a 1% chance that Theia and Earth had identical isotopic signatures.[51] Other Apollo lunar samples had in 2012 the same titanium isotopes composition as Earth,[52] which conflicts with what is expected if the Moon formed far from Earth or is derived from Theia. These discrepancies may be explained by variations of the giant impact hypothesis.
Physical characteristics

The Moon is a very slightly scalene ellipsoid due to tidal stretching, with its long axis displaced 30° from facing the Earth (due to gravitational anomalies from impact basins). Its shape is more elongated than current tidal forces can account for. This 'fossil bulge' indicates that the Moon solidified when it orbited at half its current distance to the Earth, and that it is now too cold for its shape to adjust to its orbit.[53]
Internal structure
Main article: Internal structure of the Moon
Lunar surface chemical composition[54] Compound Formula Composition
Maria Highlands
silica SiO2 45.4% 45.5%
alumina Al2O3 14.9% 24.0%
lime CaO 11.8% 15.9%
iron(II) oxide FeO 14.1% 5.9%
magnesia MgO 9.2% 7.5%
titanium dioxide TiO2 3.9% 0.6%
sodium oxide Na2O 0.6% 0.6%
99.9% 100.0%

The Moon is a differentiated body. It has a geochemically distinct crust, mantle, and core. The Moon has a solid iron-rich inner core with a radius possibly as small as 240 kilometres (150 mi) and a fluid outer core primarily made of liquid iron with a radius of roughly 300 kilometres (190 mi). Around the core is a partially molten boundary layer with a radius of about 500 kilometres (310 mi).[55][56] This structure is thought to have developed through the fractional crystallization of a global magma ocean shortly after the Moon's formation 4.5 billion years ago.[57]

Crystallization of this magma ocean would have created a mafic mantle from the precipitation and sinking of the minerals olivine, clinopyroxene, and orthopyroxene; after about three-quarters of the magma ocean had crystallised, lower-density plagioclase minerals could form and float into a crust atop.[58] The final liquids to crystallise would have been initially sandwiched between the crust and mantle, with a high abundance of incompatible and heat-producing elements.[1]

Consistent with this perspective, geochemical mapping made from orbit suggests the crust of mostly anorthosite.[12] The Moon rock samples of the flood lavas that erupted onto the surface from partial melting in the mantle confirm the mafic mantle composition, which is more iron-rich than that of Earth.[1] The crust is on average about 50 kilometres (31 mi) thick.[1]

The Moon is the second-densest satellite in the Solar System, after Io.[59] However, the inner core of the Moon is small, with a radius of about 350 kilometres (220 mi) or less,[1] around 20% of the radius of the Moon. Its composition is not well understood, but is probably metallic iron alloyed with a small amount of sulfur and nickel; analyses of the Moon's time-variable rotation suggest that it is at least partly molten.[60]
Surface geology
Main articles: Topography of the Moon, Geology of the Moon, Moon rock, and List of lunar features
The Topographic Globe of the Moon
Geological features of the Moon (near side / north pole at left, far side / south pole at right)
Topography of the Moon measured from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter on the mission Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, referenced to a sphere of radius 1737.4 km
Topography of the Moon
STL 3D model of the Moon with 10× elevation exaggeration rendered with data from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

The topography of the Moon has been measured with laser altimetry and stereo image analysis.[61] Its most visible topographic feature is the giant far-side South Pole–Aitken basin, some 2,240 km (1,390 mi) in diameter, the largest crater on the Moon and the second-largest confirmed impact crater in the Solar System.[62][63] At 13 km (8.1 mi) deep, its floor is the lowest point on the surface of the Moon.[62][64] The highest elevations of the surface are located directly to the northeast, and it has been suggested might have been thickened by the oblique formation impact of the South Pole–Aitken basin.[65] Other large impact basins such as Imbrium, Serenitatis, Crisium, Smythii, and Orientale also possess regionally low elevations and elevated rims.[62] The far side of the lunar surface is on average about 1.9 km (1.2 mi) higher than that of the near side.[1]

The discovery of fault scarp cliffs by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter suggest that the Moon has shrunk within the past billion years, by about 90 metres (300 ft).[66] Similar shrinkage features exist on Mercury. A recent study of over 12000 images from the orbiter has observed that Mare Frigoris near the north pole, a vast basin assumed to be geologically dead, has been cracking and shifting. Since the Moon doesn't have tectonic plates, its tectonic activity is slow and cracks develop as it loses heat over the years.[67]
Volcanic features
Main article: Lunar mare
Lunar nearside with major maria and craters labeled
Lunar nearside with major maria and craters labeled

The dark and relatively featureless lunar plains, clearly seen with the naked eye, are called maria (Latin for "seas"; singular mare), as they were once believed to be filled with water;[68] they are now known to be vast solidified pools of ancient basaltic lava. Although similar to terrestrial basalts, lunar basalts have more iron and no minerals altered by water.[69] The majority of these lavas erupted or flowed into the depressions associated with impact basins. Several geologic provinces containing shield volcanoes and volcanic domes are found within the near side "maria".[70]
Evidence of young lunar volcanism

Almost all maria are on the near side of the Moon, and cover 31% of the surface of the near side,[71] compared with 2% of the far side.[72] This is thought to be due to a concentration of heat-producing elements under the crust on the near side, seen on geochemical maps obtained by Lunar Prospector's gamma-ray spectrometer, which would have caused the underlying mantle to heat up, partially melt, rise to the surface and erupt.[58][73][74] Most of the Moon's mare basalts erupted during the Imbrian period, 3.0–3.5 billion years ago, although some radiometrically dated samples are as old as 4.2 billion years.[75] Until recently, the youngest eruptions, dated by crater counting, appeared to have been only 1.2 billion years ago.[76] In 2006, a study of Ina, a tiny depression in Lacus Felicitatis, found jagged, relatively dust-free features that, because of the lack of erosion by infalling debris, appeared to be only 2 million years old.[77] Moonquakes and releases of gas also indicate some continued lunar activity.[77] In 2014 NASA announced "widespread evidence of young lunar volcanism" at 70 irregular mare patches identified by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, some less than 50 million years old. This raises the possibility of a much warmer lunar mantle than previously believed, at least on the near side where the deep crust is substantially warmer because of the greater concentration of radioactive elements.[78][79][80][81] Just prior to this, evidence has been presented for 2–10 million years younger basaltic volcanism inside the crater Lowell,[82][83] Orientale basin, located in the transition zone between the near and far sides of the Moon. An initially hotter mantle and/or local enrichment of heat-producing elements in the mantle could be responsible for prolonged activities also on the far side in the Orientale basin.[84][85]

The lighter-colored regions of the Moon are called terrae, or more commonly highlands, because they are higher than most maria. They have been radiometrically dated to having formed 4.4 billion years ago, and may represent plagioclase cumulates of the lunar magma ocean.[75][76] In contrast to Earth, no major lunar mountains are believed to have formed as a result of tectonic events.[86]

The concentration of maria on the Near Side likely reflects the substantially thicker crust of the highlands of the Far Side, which may have formed in a slow-velocity impact of a second moon of Earth a few tens of millions of years after their formation.[87][88]
Impact craters
Further information: List of craters on the Moon
A gray, many-ridged surface from high above. The largest feature is a circular ringed structure with high walled sides and a lower central peak: the entire surface out to the horizon is filled with similar structures that are smaller and overlapping.
Lunar crater Daedalus on the Moon's far side

The other major geologic process that has affected the Moon's surface is impact cratering,[89] with craters formed when asteroids and comets collide with the lunar surface. There are estimated to be roughly 300,000 craters wider than 1 km (0.6 mi) on the Moon's near side alone.[90] The lunar geologic timescale is based on the most prominent impact events, including Nectaris, Imbrium, and Orientale, structures characterized by multiple rings of uplifted material, between hundreds and thousands of kilometers in diameter and associated with a broad apron of ejecta deposits that form a regional stratigraphic horizon.[91] The lack of an atmosphere, weather and recent geological processes mean that many of these craters are well-preserved. Although only a few multi-ring basins have been definitively dated, they are useful for assigning relative ages. Because impact craters accumulate at a nearly constant rate, counting the number of craters per unit area can be used to estimate the age of the surface.[91] The radiometric ages of impact-melted rocks collected during the Apollo missions cluster between 3.8 and 4.1 billion years old: this has been used to propose a Late Heavy Bombardment of impacts.[92]

Blanketed on top of the Moon's crust is a highly comminuted (broken into ever smaller particles) and impact gardened surface layer called regolith, formed by impact processes. The finer regolith, the lunar soil of silicon dioxide glass, has a texture resembling snow and a scent resembling spent gunpowder.[93] The regolith of older surfaces is generally thicker than for younger surfaces: it varies in thickness from 10–20 km (6.2–12.4 mi) in the highlands and 3–5 km (1.9–3.1 mi) in the maria.[94] Beneath the finely comminuted regolith layer is the megaregolith, a layer of highly fractured bedrock many kilometers thick.[95]

Comparison of high-resolution images obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has shown a contemporary crater-production rate significantly higher than previously estimated. A secondary cratering process caused by distal ejecta is thought to churn the top two centimeters of regolith a hundred times more quickly than previous models suggested – on a timescale of 81,000 years.[96][97]
Lunar swirls at Reiner Gamma
Lunar swirls
Main article: Lunar swirls

Lunar swirls are enigmatic features found across the Moon's surface. They are characterized by a high albedo, appear optically immature (i.e. the optical characteristics of a relatively young regolith), and have often a sinuous shape. Their shape is often accentuated by low albedo regions that wind between the bright swirls.
Presence of water
Main article: Lunar water

Liquid water cannot persist on the lunar surface. When exposed to solar radiation, water quickly decomposes through a process known as photodissociation and is lost to space. However, since the 1960s, scientists have hypothesized that water ice may be deposited by impacting comets or possibly produced by the reaction of oxygen-rich lunar rocks, and hydrogen from solar wind, leaving traces of water which could possibly persist in cold, permanently shadowed craters at either pole on the Moon.[98][99] Computer simulations suggest that up to 14,000 km2 (5,400 sq mi) of the surface may be in permanent shadow.[100] The presence of usable quantities of water on the Moon is an important factor in rendering lunar habitation as a cost-effective plan; the alternative of transporting water from Earth would be prohibitively expensive.[101]

In years since, signatures of water have been found to exist on the lunar surface.[102] In 1994, the bistatic radar experiment located on the Clementine spacecraft, indicated the existence of small, frozen pockets of water close to the surface. However, later radar observations by Arecibo, suggest these findings may rather be rocks ejected from young impact craters.[103] In 1998, the neutron spectrometer on the Lunar Prospector spacecraft showed that high concentrations of hydrogen are present in the first meter of depth in the regolith near the polar regions.[104] Volcanic lava beads, brought back to Earth aboard Apollo 15, showed small amounts of water in their interior.[105]

The 2008 Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft has since confirmed the existence of surface water ice, using the on-board Moon Mineralogy Mapper. The spectrometer observed absorption lines common to hydroxyl, in reflected sunlight, providing evidence of large quantities of water ice, on the lunar surface. The spacecraft showed that concentrations may possibly be as high as 1,000 ppm.[106] Using the mapper's reflectance spectra, indirect lighting of areas in shadow confirmed water ice within 20° latitude of both poles in 2018.[107] In 2009, LCROSS sent a 2,300 kg (5,100 lb) impactor into a permanently shadowed polar crater, and detected at least 100 kg (220 lb) of water in a plume of ejected material.[108][109] Another examination of the LCROSS data showed the amount of detected water to be closer to 155 ± 12 kg (342 ± 26 lb).[110]

In May 2011, 615–1410 ppm water in melt inclusions in lunar sample 74220 was reported,[111] the famous high-titanium "orange glass soil" of volcanic origin collected during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The inclusions were formed during explosive eruptions on the Moon approximately 3.7 billion years ago. This concentration is comparable with that of magma in Earth's upper mantle. Although of considerable selenological interest, this announcement affords little comfort to would-be lunar colonists – the sample originated many kilometers below the surface, and the inclusions are so difficult to access that it took 39 years to find them with a state-of-the-art ion microprobe instrument.

Analysis of the findings of the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) revealed in August 2018 for the first time "definitive evidence" for water-ice on the lunar surface.[112][113] The data revealed the distinct reflective signatures of water-ice, as opposed to dust and other reflective substances.[114] The ice deposits were found on the North and South poles, although it is more abundant in the South, where water is trapped in permanently shadowed craters and crevices, allowing it to persist as ice on the surface since they are shielded from the sun.[112][114]

In October 2020, astronomers reported detecting molecular water on the sunlit surface of the moon by several independent spacecraft, including the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).[115][116][117][118]
Gravitational field
Main article: Gravity of the Moon
GRAIL's gravity map of the Moon

The gravitational field of the Moon has been measured through tracking the Doppler shift of radio signals emitted by orbiting spacecraft. The main lunar gravity features are mascons, large positive gravitational anomalies associated with some of the giant impact basins, partly caused by the dense mare basaltic lava flows that fill those basins.[119][120] The anomalies greatly influence the orbit of spacecraft about the Moon. There are some puzzles: lava flows by themselves cannot explain all of the gravitational signature, and some mascons exist that are not linked to mare volcanism.[121]
Magnetic field
Main article: Magnetic field of the Moon

The Moon has an external magnetic field of generally less than 0.2 nanoteslas,[122] or less than one hundred thousandth that of Earth. The Moon does not currently have a global dipolar magnetic field and only has crustal magnetization likely acquired early in its history when a dynamo was still operating.[123][124] However, early in its history, 4 billion years ago, its magnetic field strength was likely close to that of Earth today.[122] This early dynamo field apparently expired by about one billion years ago, after the lunar core had completely crystallized.[122] Theoretically, some of the remnant magnetization may originate from transient magnetic fields generated during large impacts through the expansion of plasma clouds. These clouds are generated during large impacts in an ambient magnetic field. This is supported by the location of the largest crustal magnetizations situated near the antipodes of the giant impact basins.[125]
Atmosphere
Main article: Atmosphere of the Moon
Sketch by the Apollo 17 astronauts. The lunar atmosphere was later studied by LADEE.[126][127]

The Moon has an atmosphere so tenuous as to be nearly vacuum, with a total mass of less than 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons; 11 short tons).[128] The surface pressure of this small mass is around 3 × 10−15 atm (0.3 nPa); it varies with the lunar day. Its sources include outgassing and sputtering, a product of the bombardment of lunar soil by solar wind ions.[12][129] Elements that have been detected include sodium and potassium, produced by sputtering (also found in the atmospheres of Mercury and Io); helium-4 and neon[130] from the solar wind; and argon-40, radon-222, and polonium-210, outgassed after their creation by radioactive decay within the crust and mantle.[131][132] The absence of such neutral species (atoms or molecules) as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and magnesium, which are present in the regolith, is not understood.[131] Water vapor has been detected by Chandrayaan-1 and found to vary with latitude, with a maximum at ~60–70 degrees; it is possibly generated from the sublimation of water ice in the regolith.[133] These gases either return into the regolith because of the Moon's gravity or are lost to space, either through solar radiation pressure or, if they are ionized, by being swept away by the solar wind's magnetic field.[131]
Dust

A permanent asymmetric Moon dust cloud exists around the Moon, created by small particles from comets. Estimates are 5 tons of comet particles strike the Moon's surface every 24 hours. The particles striking the Moon's surface eject Moon dust above the Moon. The dust stays above the Moon approximately 10 minutes, taking 5 minutes to rise, and 5 minutes to fall. On average, 120 kilograms of dust are present above the Moon, rising to 100 kilometers above the surface. The dust measurements were made by LADEE's Lunar Dust EXperiment (LDEX), between 20 and 100 kilometers above the surface, during a six-month period. LDEX detected an average of one 0.3 micrometer Moon dust particle each minute. Dust particle counts peaked during the Geminid, Quadrantid, Northern Taurid, and Omicron Centaurid meteor showers, when the Earth, and Moon, pass through comet debris. The cloud is asymmetric, more dense near the boundary between the Moon's dayside and nightside.[134][135]
Past thicker atmosphere

In October 2017, NASA scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston announced their finding, based on studies of Moon magma samples retrieved by the Apollo missions, that the Moon had once possessed a relatively thick atmosphere for a period of 70 million years between 3 and 4 billion years ago. This atmosphere, sourced from gases ejected from lunar volcanic eruptions, was twice the thickness of that of present-day Mars. The ancient lunar atmosphere was eventually stripped away by solar winds and dissipated into space.[136]
Seasons

The Moon's axial tilt with respect to the ecliptic is only 1.5424°,[137] much less than the 23.44° of Earth. Because of this, the Moon's solar illumination varies much less with season, and topographical details play a crucial role in seasonal effects.[138] From images taken by Clementine in 1994, it appears that four mountainous regions on the rim of the crater Peary at the Moon's north pole may remain illuminated for the entire lunar day, creating peaks of eternal light. No such regions exist at the south pole. Similarly, there are places that remain in permanent shadow at the bottoms of many polar craters,[100] and these "craters of eternal darkness" are extremely cold: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter measured the lowest summer temperatures in craters at the southern pole at 35 K (−238 °C; −397 °F)[139] and just 26 K (−247 °C; −413 °F) close to the winter solstice in the north polar crater Hermite. This is the coldest temperature in the Solar System ever measured by a spacecraft, colder even than the surface of Pluto.[138] Average temperatures of the Moon's surface are reported, but temperatures of different areas will vary greatly depending upon whether they are in sunlight or shadow.[140]
Rotation

The Moon is rotating around its own axis. This rotation is due to tidal locking synchronous to its orbital period around Earth.

The rotation period depends on the frame of reference. There are sidreal rotation periods (or sidreal day, in relation to the stars), and synodic rotation periods (or synodic day, in relation to the Sun). A lunar day is a synodic day.

Because of the tidal locked rotation, the sidreal and synodic rotation periods correspond to the sidreal (27.3 Earth days) and synodic (29.5 Earth days) orbital periods.[141]
Earth–Moon system

Scale model of the Earth–Moon system: Sizes and distances are to scale.

Orbit
Main articles: Orbit of the Moon and Lunar theory
Animation of Moon's orbit around Earth from 2018 to 2027
Moon · Earth
Earth has a pronounced axial tilt; the Moon's orbit is not perpendicular to Earth's axis, but lies close to Earth's orbital plane.
Earth–Moon system (schematic)
DSCOVR satellite sees the Moon passing in front of Earth

The Moon makes a complete orbit around Earth with respect to the fixed stars about once every 27.3 days[g] (its sidereal period). However, because Earth is moving in its orbit around the Sun at the same time, it takes slightly longer for the Moon to show the same phase to Earth, which is about 29.5 days[h] (its synodic period).[71] Unlike most satellites of other planets, the Moon orbits closer to the ecliptic plane than to the planet's equatorial plane. The Moon's orbit is subtly perturbed by the Sun and Earth in many small, complex and interacting ways. For example, the plane of the Moon's orbit gradually rotates once every 18.61 years,[142] which affects other aspects of lunar motion. These follow-on effects are mathematically described by Cassini's laws.[143]
Relative size

The Moon is an exceptionally large natural satellite relative to Earth: Its diameter is more than a quarter and its mass is 1/81 of Earth's.[71] It is the largest moon in the Solar System relative to the size of its planet,[i] though Charon is larger relative to the dwarf planet Pluto, at 1/9 Pluto's mass.[j][144] The Earth and the Moon's barycentre, their common center of mass, is located 1,700 km (1,100 mi) (about a quarter of Earth's radius) beneath the Earth's surface.

The Earth revolves around the Earth-Moon barycentre once a sidereal month, with 1/81 the speed of the Moon, or about 12.5 metres (41 ft) per second. This motion is superimposed on the much larger revolution of the Earth around the Sun at a speed of about 30 kilometres (19 mi) per second.

The surface area of the Moon is slightly less than the areas of North and South America combined.
Appearance from Earth
A full moon appears as a half moon during an eclipse moonset over the High Desert in California, on the morning of the Trifecta: Full moon, Supermoon, Lunar eclipse, January 2018 lunar eclipse

The Moon is in synchronous rotation as it orbits Earth; it rotates about its axis in about the same time it takes to orbit Earth. This results in it always keeping nearly the same face turned towards Earth. However, because of the effect of libration, about 59% of the Moon's surface can actually be seen from Earth. The side of the Moon that faces Earth is called the near side, and the opposite the far side. The far side is often inaccurately called the "dark side", but it is in fact illuminated as often as the near side: once every 29.5 Earth days. During new moon, the near side is dark.[145]

The Moon had once rotated at a faster rate, but early in its history its rotation slowed and became tidally locked in this orientation as a result of frictional effects associated with tidal deformations caused by Earth.[146] With time, the energy of rotation of the Moon on its axis was dissipated as heat, until there was no rotation of the Moon relative to Earth. In 2016, planetary scientists using data collected on the much earlier NASA Lunar Prospector mission, found two hydrogen-rich areas (most likely former water ice) on opposite sides of the Moon. It is speculated that these patches were the poles of the Moon billions of years ago before it was tidally locked to Earth.[147]
The Moon is prominently featured in Vincent van Gogh's 1889 painting, The Starry Night

The Moon has an exceptionally low albedo, giving it a reflectance that is slightly brighter than that of worn asphalt. Despite this, it is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun.[71][k] This is due partly to the brightness enhancement of the opposition surge; the Moon at quarter phase is only one-tenth as bright, rather than half as bright, as at full moon.[148] Additionally, color constancy in the visual system recalibrates the relations between the colors of an object and its surroundings, and because the surrounding sky is comparatively dark, the sunlit Moon is perceived as a bright object. The edges of the full moon seem as bright as the center, without limb darkening, because of the reflective properties of lunar soil, which retroreflects light more towards the Sun than in other directions. The Moon does appear larger when close to the horizon, but this is a purely psychological effect, known as the moon illusion, first described in the 7th century BC.[149] The full Moon's angular diameter is about 0.52° (on average) in the sky, roughly the same apparent size as the Sun (see § Eclipses).

The Moon's highest altitude at culmination varies by its phase and time of year. The full moon is highest in the sky during winter (for each hemisphere). The orientation of the Moon's crescent also depends on the latitude of the viewing location; an observer in the tropics can see a smile-shaped crescent Moon.[150] The Moon is visible for two weeks every 27.3 days at the North and South Poles. Zooplankton in the Arctic use moonlight when the Sun is below the horizon for months on end.[151]
14 November 2016 supermoon was 356,511 kilometres (221,526 mi) away[152] from the center of Earth, the closest occurrence since 26 January 1948. It will not be closer until 25 November 2034.[153]

The distance between the Moon and Earth varies from around 356,400 km (221,500 mi) to 406,700 km (252,700 mi) at perigee (closest) and apogee (farthest), respectively. On 14 November 2016, it was closer to Earth when at full phase than it has been since 1948, 14% closer than its farthest position in apogee.[154] Reported as a "supermoon", this closest point coincided within an hour of a full moon, and it was 30% more luminous than when at its greatest distance because its angular diameter is 14% greater and 1.14 2 ≈ 1.30 {\displaystyle \scriptstyle 1.14^{2}\approx 1.30} \scriptstyle 1.14^{2}\approx 1.30.[155][156][157] At lower levels, the human perception of reduced brightness as a percentage is provided by the following formula:[158][159]

perceived reduction % = 100 × actual reduction % 100 {\displaystyle {\text{perceived reduction}}\%=100\times {\sqrt {{\text{actual reduction}}\% \over 100}}} {\displaystyle {\text{perceived reduction}}\%=100\times {\sqrt {{\text{actual reduction}}\% \over 100}}}

When the actual reduction is 1.00 / 1.30, or about 0.770, the perceived reduction is about 0.877, or 1.00 / 1.14. This gives a maximum perceived increase of 14% between apogee and perigee moons of the same phase.[160]

There has been historical controversy over whether features on the Moon's surface change over time. Today, many of these claims are thought to be illusory, resulting from observation under different lighting conditions, poor astronomical seeing, or inadequate drawings. However, outgassing does occasionally occur and could be responsible for a minor percentage of the reported lunar transient phenomena. Recently, it has been suggested that a roughly 3 km (1.9 mi) diameter region of the lunar surface was modified by a gas release event about a million years ago.[161][162]

The Moon's appearance, like the Sun's, can be affected by Earth's atmosphere. Common optical effects are the 22° halo ring, formed when the Moon's light is refracted through the ice crystals of high cirrostratus clouds, and smaller coronal rings when the Moon is seen through thin clouds.[163]
The monthly changes in the angle between the direction of sunlight and view from Earth, and the phases of the Moon that result, as viewed from the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth–Moon distance is not to scale.

The illuminated area of the visible sphere (degree of illumination) is given by ( 1 − cos ⁡ e ) / 2 = sin 2 ⁡ ( e / 2 ) {\displaystyle (1-\cos e)/2=\sin ^{2}(e/2)} {\displaystyle (1-\cos e)/2=\sin ^{2}(e/2)}, where e {\displaystyle e} e is the elongation (i.e., the angle between Moon, the observer (on Earth) and the Sun).
Tidal effects
Main articles: Tidal force, Tidal acceleration, Tide, and Theory of tides
Over one lunar month more than half of the Moon's surface can be seen from Earth's surface.
The libration of the Moon over a single lunar month. Also visible is the slight variation in the Moon's visual size from Earth.

The gravitational attraction that masses have for one another decreases inversely with the square of the distance of those masses from each other. As a result, the slightly greater attraction that the Moon has for the side of Earth closest to the Moon, as compared to the part of the Earth opposite the Moon, results in tidal forces. Tidal forces affect both the Earth's crust and oceans.

The most obvious effect of tidal forces is to cause two bulges in the Earth's oceans, one on the side facing the Moon and the other on the side opposite. This results in elevated sea levels called ocean tides.[164] As the Earth rotates on its axis, one of the ocean bulges (high tide) is held in place "under" the Moon, while another such tide is opposite. As a result, there are two high tides, and two low tides in about 24 hours.[164] Since the Moon is orbiting the Earth in the same direction of the Earth's rotation, the high tides occur about every 12 hours and 25 minutes; the 25 minutes is due to the Moon's time to orbit the Earth. The Sun has the same tidal effect on the Earth, but its forces of attraction are only 40% that of the Moon's; the Sun's and Moon's interplay is responsible for spring and neap tides.[164] If the Earth were a water world (one with no continents) it would produce a tide of only one meter, and that tide would be very predictable, but the ocean tides are greatly modified by other effects: the frictional coupling of water to Earth's rotation through the ocean floors, the inertia of water's movement, ocean basins that grow shallower near land, the sloshing of water between different ocean basins.[165] As a result, the timing of the tides at most points on the Earth is a product of observations that are explained, incidentally, by theory.

While gravitation causes acceleration and movement of the Earth's fluid oceans, gravitational coupling between the Moon and Earth's solid body is mostly elastic and plastic. The result is a further tidal effect of the Moon on the Earth that causes a bulge of the solid portion of the Earth nearest the Moon that acts as a torque in opposition to the Earth's rotation. This "drains" angular momentum and rotational kinetic energy from Earth's rotation, slowing the Earth's rotation.[164][166] That angular momentum, lost from the Earth, is transferred to the Moon in a process (confusingly known as tidal acceleration), which lifts the Moon into a higher orbit and results in its lower orbital speed about the Earth. Thus the distance between Earth and Moon is increasing, and the Earth's rotation is slowing in reaction.[166] Measurements from laser reflectors left during the Apollo missions (lunar ranging experiments) have found that the Moon's distance increases by 38 mm (1.5 in) per year[167] (roughly the rate at which human fingernails grow).[168] Atomic clocks also show that Earth's day lengthens by about 15 microseconds every year,[169] slowly increasing the rate at which UTC is adjusted by leap seconds. Left to run its course, this tidal drag would continue until the rotation of Earth and the orbital period of the Moon matched, creating mutual tidal locking between the two. As a result, the Moon would be suspended in the sky over one meridian, as is already currently the case with Pluto and its moon Charon. However, the Sun will become a red giant engulfing the Earth-Moon system long before this occurrence.[170][171]

In a like manner, the lunar surface experiences tides of around 10 cm (4 in) amplitude over 27 days, with two components: a fixed one due to Earth, because they are in synchronous rotation, and a varying component from the Sun.[166] The Earth-induced component arises from libration, a result of the Moon's orbital eccentricity (if the Moon's orbit were perfectly circular, there would only be solar tides).[166] Libration also changes the angle from which the Moon is seen, allowing a total of about 59% of its surface to be seen from Earth over time.[71] The cumulative effects of stress built up by these tidal forces produces moonquakes. Moonquakes are much less common and weaker than are earthquakes, although moonquakes can last for up to an hour – significantly longer than terrestrial quakes – because of the absence of water to damp out the seismic vibrations. The existence of moonquakes was an unexpected discovery from seismometers placed on the Moon by Apollo astronauts from 1969 through 1972.[172]

According to recent research, scientists suggest that the Moon's influence on the Earth may contribute to maintaining Earth's magnetic field.[173]

A common misconception states that the phases of the Moon determine tides, because a "new moon" subjects the Earth to less gravity than a "full" moon. How much of the Moon that is in sunlight (as seen from the Earth) does not alter how much of the Moon is actually their. The misconception is related to the fact that a "new moon" generally means the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun and a "full moon" represents the moon not being between the earth and the Sun.
Eclipses
Main articles: Solar eclipse, Lunar eclipse, and Eclipse cycle
The fiercely bright disk of the Sun is completely obscured by the exact fit of the disk of the dark, non-illuminated Moon, leaving only the radial, fuzzy, glowing coronal filaments of the Sun around the edge.
The bright disk of the Sun, showing many coronal filaments, flares and grainy patches in the wavelength of this image, is partly obscured by a small dark disk: here, the Moon covers less than a fifteenth of the Sun.
From Earth, the Moon and the Sun appear the same size, as seen in the 1999 solar eclipse (left), whereas from the STEREO-B spacecraft in an Earth-trailing orbit, the Moon appears much smaller than the Sun (right).[174]

Eclipses only occur when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are all in a straight line (termed "syzygy"). Solar eclipses occur at new moon, when the Moon is between the Sun and Earth. In contrast, lunar eclipses occur at full moon, when Earth is between the Sun and Moon. The apparent size of the Moon is roughly the same as that of the Sun, with both being viewed at close to one-half a degree wide. The Sun is much larger than the Moon but it is the vastly greater distance that gives it the same apparent size as the much closer and much smaller Moon from the perspective of Earth. The variations in apparent size, due to the non-circular orbits, are nearly the same as well, though occurring in different cycles. This makes possible both total (with the Moon appearing larger than the Sun) and annular (with the Moon appearing smaller than the Sun) solar eclipses.[175] In a total eclipse, the Moon completely covers the disc of the Sun and the solar corona becomes visible to the naked eye. Because the distance between the Moon and Earth is very slowly increasing over time,[164] the angular diameter of the Moon is decreasing. Also, as it evolves toward becoming a red giant, the size of the Sun, and its apparent diameter in the sky, are slowly increasing.[l] The combination of these two changes means that hundreds of millions of years ago, the Moon would always completely cover the Sun on solar eclipses, and no annular eclipses were possible. Likewise, hundreds of millions of years in the future, the Moon will no longer cover the Sun completely, and total solar eclipses will not occur.[176]

Because the Moon's orbit around Earth is inclined by about 5.145° (5° 9') to the orbit of Earth around the Sun, eclipses do not occur at every full and new moon. For an eclipse to occur, the Moon must be near the intersection of the two orbital planes.[177] The periodicity and recurrence of eclipses of the Sun by the Moon, and of the Moon by Earth, is described by the saros, which has a period of approximately 18 years.[178]

Because the Moon continuously blocks the view of a half-degree-wide circular area of the sky,[m][179] the related phenomenon of occultation occurs when a bright star or planet passes behind the Moon and is occulted: hidden from view. In this way, a solar eclipse is an occultation of the Sun. Because the Moon is comparatively close to Earth, occultations of individual stars are not visible everywhere on the planet, nor at the same time. Because of the precession of the lunar orbit, each year different stars are occulted.[180]
Observation and exploration
Main articles: Exploration of the Moon, List of spacecraft that orbited the Moon, List of missions to the Moon, and List of lunar probes
Before spaceflight
Main article: Exploration of the Moon: Before spaceflight
On an open folio page is a carefully drawn disk of the full moon. In the upper corners of the page are waving banners held aloft by pairs of winged cherubs. In the lower left page corner a cherub assists another to measure distances with a pair of compasses; in the lower right corner a cherub views the main map through a handheld telescope, whereas another, kneeling, peers at the map from over a low cloth-draped table.
Map of the Moon by Johannes Hevelius from his Selenographia (1647), the first map to include the libration zones
A study of the Moon in Robert Hooke's Micrographia, 1665

One of the earliest-discovered possible depictions of the Moon is a 5000-year-old rock carving Orthostat 47 at Knowth, Ireland.[181][182]

Understanding of the Moon's cycles was an early development of astronomy: by the 5th century BC, Babylonian astronomers had recorded the 18-year Saros cycle of lunar eclipses,[183] and Indian astronomers had described the Moon's monthly elongation.[184] The Chinese astronomer Shi Shen (fl. 4th century BC) gave instructions for predicting solar and lunar eclipses.[185](p411) Later, the physical form of the Moon and the cause of moonlight became understood. The ancient Greek philosopher Anaxagoras (d. 428 BC) reasoned that the Sun and Moon were both giant spherical rocks, and that the latter reflected the light of the former.[186][185](p227) Although the Chinese of the Han Dynasty believed the Moon to be energy equated to qi, their 'radiating influence' theory also recognized that the light of the Moon was merely a reflection of the Sun, and Jing Fang (78–37 BC) noted the sphericity of the Moon.[185](pp413–414) In the 2nd century AD, Lucian wrote the novel A True Story, in which the heroes travel to the Moon and meet its inhabitants. In 499 AD, the Indian astronomer Aryabhata mentioned in his Aryabhatiya that reflected sunlight is the cause of the shining of the Moon.[187] The astronomer and physicist Alhazen (965–1039) found that sunlight was not reflected from the Moon like a mirror, but that light was emitted from every part of the Moon's sunlit surface in all directions.[188] Shen Kuo (1031–1095) of the Song dynasty created an allegory equating the waxing and waning of the Moon to a round ball of reflective silver that, when doused with white powder and viewed from the side, would appear to be a crescent.[185](pp415–416)
Galileo's sketches of the Moon from Sidereus Nuncius

In Aristotle's (384–322 BC) description of the universe, the Moon marked the boundary between the spheres of the mutable elements (earth, water, air and fire), and the imperishable stars of aether, an influential philosophy that would dominate for centuries.[189] However, in the 2nd century BC, Seleucus of Seleucia correctly theorized that tides were due to the attraction of the Moon, and that their height depends on the Moon's position relative to the Sun.[190] In the same century, Aristarchus computed the size and distance of the Moon from Earth, obtaining a value of about twenty times the radius of Earth for the distance. These figures were greatly improved by Ptolemy (90–168 AD): his values of a mean distance of 59 times Earth's radius and a diameter of 0.292 Earth diameters were close to the correct values of about 60 and 0.273 respectively.[191] Archimedes (287–212 BC) designed a planetarium that could calculate the motions of the Moon and other objects in the Solar System.[192]

During the Middle Ages, before the invention of the telescope, the Moon was increasingly recognised as a sphere, though many believed that it was "perfectly smooth".[193]

In 1609, Galileo Galilei drew one of the first telescopic drawings of the Moon in his book Sidereus Nuncius and noted that it was not smooth but had mountains and craters. Thomas Harriot had made, but not published such drawings a few months earlier. Telescopic mapping of the Moon followed: later in the 17th century, the efforts of Giovanni Battista Riccioli and Francesco Maria Grimaldi led to the system of naming of lunar features in use today. The more exact 1834–36 Mappa Selenographica of Wilhelm Beer and Johann Heinrich Mädler, and their associated 1837 book Der Mond, the first trigonometrically accurate study of lunar features, included the heights of more than a thousand mountains, and introduced the study of the Moon at accuracies possible in earthly geography.[194] Lunar craters, first noted by Galileo, were thought to be volcanic until the 1870s proposal of Richard Proctor that they were formed by collisions.[71] This view gained support in 1892 from the experimentation of geologist Grove Karl Gilbert, and from comparative studies from 1920 to the 1940s,[195] leading to the development of lunar stratigraphy, which by the 1950s was becoming a new and growing branch of astrogeology.[71]
1959–1970s

Between the first human arrival with the robotic Soviet Luna program in 1958, to the 1970s with the last Missions of the crewed U.S. Apollo landings and last Luna mission in 1976, the Cold War-inspired Space Race between the Soviet Union and the U.S. led to an acceleration of interest in exploration of the Moon. Once launchers had the necessary capabilities, these nations sent uncrewed probes on both flyby and impact/lander missions.
Soviet missions
Main articles: Luna program and Lunokhod programme
First view in history of the far side of the Moon, taken by Luna 3, 7 October 1959
A model of Soviet Moon rover Lunokhod 1

Spacecraft from the Soviet Union's Luna program were the first to accomplish a number of goals: following three unnamed, failed missions in 1958,[196] the first human-made object to escape Earth's gravity and pass near the Moon was Luna 1; the first human-made object to impact the lunar surface was Luna 2, and the first photographs of the normally occluded far side of the Moon were made by Luna 3, all in 1959.
Stamp with a drawing of the first soft landed probe Luna 9, next to the first view of the lunar surface photographed by the probe

The first spacecraft to perform a successful lunar soft landing was Luna 9 and the first uncrewed vehicle to orbit the Moon was Luna 10, both in 1966.[71] Rock and soil samples were brought back to Earth by three Luna sample return missions (Luna 16 in 1970, Luna 20 in 1972, and Luna 24 in 1976), which returned 0.3 kg total.[197] Two pioneering robotic rovers landed on the Moon in 1970 and 1973 as a part of Soviet Lunokhod programme.

Luna 24 was the last Soviet mission to the Moon.
United States missions
Main articles: Apollo program and Moon landing
The small blue-white semicircle of Earth, almost glowing with color in the blackness of space, rising over the limb of the desolate, cratered surface of the Moon.
Earthrise (Apollo 8, 1968, taken by William Anders)
Moon rock (Apollo 17, 1972)

During the late 1950s at the height of the Cold War, the United States Army conducted a classified feasibility study that proposed the construction of a staffed military outpost on the Moon called Project Horizon with the potential to conduct a wide range of missions from scientific research to nuclear Earth bombardment. The study included the possibility of conducting a lunar-based nuclear test.[198][199] The Air Force, which at the time was in competition with the Army for a leading role in the space program, developed its own similar plan called Lunex.[200][201][198] However, both these proposals were ultimately passed over as the space program was largely transferred from the military to the civilian agency NASA.[201]

Following President John F. Kennedy's 1961 commitment to a human moon landing before the end of the decade, the United States, under NASA leadership, launched a series of uncrewed probes to develop an understanding of the lunar surface in preparation for human missions: the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Ranger program produced the first close-up pictures; the Lunar Orbiter program produced maps of the entire Moon; the Surveyor program landed its first spacecraft four months after Luna 9. The crewed Apollo program was developed in parallel; after a series of uncrewed and crewed tests of the Apollo spacecraft in Earth orbit, and spurred on by a potential Soviet lunar human landing, in 1968 Apollo 8 made the first human mission to lunar orbit. The subsequent landing of the first humans on the Moon in 1969 is seen by many as the culmination of the Space Race.[202]
Neil Armstrong working at the Lunar Module Eagle during Apollo 11 (1969)

"That's one small step ..."
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Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon as the commander of the American mission Apollo 11 by first setting foot on the Moon at 02:56 UTC on 21 July 1969.[203] An estimated 500 million people worldwide watched the transmission by the Apollo TV camera, the largest television audience for a live broadcast at that time.[204][205] The Apollo missions 11 to 17 (except Apollo 13, which aborted its planned lunar landing) removed 380.05 kilograms (837.87 lb) of lunar rock and soil in 2,196 separate samples.[206] The American Moon landing and return was enabled by considerable technological advances in the early 1960s, in domains such as ablation chemistry, software engineering, and atmospheric re-entry technology, and by highly competent management of the enormous technical undertaking.[207][208]

Scientific instrument packages were installed on the lunar surface during all the Apollo landings. Long-lived instrument stations, including heat flow probes, seismometers, and magnetometers, were installed at the Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 landing sites. Direct transmission of data to Earth concluded in late 1977 because of budgetary considerations,[209][210] but as the stations' lunar laser ranging corner-cube retroreflector arrays are passive instruments, they are still being used. Ranging to the stations is routinely performed from Earth-based stations with an accuracy of a few centimeters, and data from this experiment are being used to place constraints on the size of the lunar core.[211]
1970s – present
An artificially colored mosaic constructed from a series of 53 images taken through three spectral filters by Galileo' s imaging system as the spacecraft flew over the northern regions of the Moon on 7 December 1992.

After the Moon race the focus of astronautic exploration shifted in the 1970s with probes like Pioneer 10 and the Voyager program towards the outer solar system. Years of near lunar quietude followed, only broken by a beginning internationalization of space and the Moon through for example the negotiation of the Moon treaty.

Since the 1990s, many more countries have become involved in direct exploration of the Moon. In 1990, Japan became the third country to place a spacecraft into lunar orbit with its Hiten spacecraft. The spacecraft released a smaller probe, Hagoromo, in lunar orbit, but the transmitter failed, preventing further scientific use of the mission.[212] In 1994, the U.S. sent the joint Defense Department/NASA spacecraft Clementine to lunar orbit. This mission obtained the first near-global topographic map of the Moon, and the first global multispectral images of the lunar surface.[213] This was followed in 1998 by the Lunar Prospector mission, whose instruments indicated the presence of excess hydrogen at the lunar poles, which is likely to have been caused by the presence of water ice in the upper few meters of the regolith within permanently shadowed craters.[214]
As viewed by Chandrayaan-1's NASA Moon Mineralogy Mapper equipment, on the right, the first time discovered water-rich minerals (light blue), shown around a small crater from which it was ejected.

The European spacecraft SMART-1, the second ion-propelled spacecraft, was in lunar orbit from 15 November 2004 until its lunar impact on 3 September 2006, and made the first detailed survey of chemical elements on the lunar surface.[215]

The ambitious Chinese Lunar Exploration Program began with Chang'e 1, which successfully orbited the Moon from 5 November 2007 until its controlled lunar impact on 1 March 2009.[216] It obtained a full image map of the Moon. Chang'e 2, beginning in October 2010, reached the Moon more quickly, mapped the Moon at a higher resolution over an eight-month period, then left lunar orbit for an extended stay at the Earth–Sun L2 Lagrangian point, before finally performing a flyby of asteroid 4179 Toutatis on 13 December 2012, and then heading off into deep space. On 14 December 2013, Chang'e 3 landed a lunar lander onto the Moon's surface, which in turn deployed a lunar rover, named Yutu (Chinese: 玉兔; literally "Jade Rabbit"). This was the first lunar soft landing since Luna 24 in 1976, and the first lunar rover mission since Lunokhod 2 in 1973. Another rover mission (Chang'e 4) was launched in 2019, becoming the first ever spacecraft to land on the Moon's far side. China intends to following this up with a sample return mission (Chang'e 5) in 2020.[217]

Between 4 October 2007 and 10 June 2009, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kaguya (Selene) mission, a lunar orbiter fitted with a high-definition video camera, and two small radio-transmitter satellites, obtained lunar geophysics data and took the first high-definition movies from beyond Earth orbit.[218][219] India's first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, orbited from 8 November 2008 until loss of contact on 27 August 2009, creating a high-resolution chemical, mineralogical and photo-geological map of the lunar surface, and confirming the presence of water molecules in lunar soil.[220] The Indian Space Research Organisation planned to launch Chandrayaan-2 in 2013, which would have included a Russian robotic lunar rover.[221][222] However, the failure of Russia's Fobos-Grunt mission has delayed this project, and was launched on 22 July 2019. The lander Vikram attempted to land on the lunar south pole region on 6 September, but lost the signal in 2.1 km (1.3 mi). What happened after that is unknown.
Copernicus's central peaks as observed by the LRO, 2012
The Ina formation, 2009

The U.S. co-launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the LCROSS impactor and follow-up observation orbiter on 18 June 2009; LCROSS completed its mission by making a planned and widely observed impact in the crater Cabeus on 9 October 2009,[223] whereas LRO is currently in operation, obtaining precise lunar altimetry and high-resolution imagery. In November 2011, the LRO passed over the large and bright crater Aristarchus. NASA released photos of the crater on 25 December 2011.[224]

Two NASA GRAIL spacecraft began orbiting the Moon around 1 January 2012,[225] on a mission to learn more about the Moon's internal structure. NASA's LADEE probe, designed to study the lunar exosphere, achieved orbit on 6 October 2013.
Future

Upcoming lunar missions include Russia's Luna-Glob: an uncrewed lander with a set of seismometers, and an orbiter based on its failed Martian Fobos-Grunt mission.[226] Privately funded lunar exploration has been promoted by the Google Lunar X Prize, announced 13 September 2007, which offers US$20 million to anyone who can land a robotic rover on the Moon and meet other specified criteria.[227] Shackleton Energy Company is building a program to establish operations on the south pole of the Moon to harvest water and supply their Propellant Depots.[228] NASA began to plan to resume human missions following the call by U.S. President George W. Bush on 14 January 2004 for a human mission to the Moon by 2019 and the construction of a lunar base by 2024.[229] The Constellation program was funded and construction and testing begun on a crewed spacecraft and launch vehicle,[230] and design studies for a lunar base.[231] However, that program has been canceled in favor of a human asteroid landing by 2025 and a human Mars orbit by 2035.[232] India has also expressed its hope to send people to the Moon by 2020.[233] On 28 February 2018, SpaceX, Vodafone, Nokia and Audi announced a collaboration to install a 4G wireless communication network on the Moon, with the aim of streaming live footage on the surface to Earth.[234] Recent reports also indicate NASA's intent to send a woman astronaut to the Moon in their planned mid-2020s mission.[235] Planned commercial missions In 2007, the X Prize Foundation together with Google launched the Google Lunar X Prize to encourage commercial endeavors to the Moon. A prize of$20 million was to be awarded to the first private venture to get to the Moon with a robotic lander by the end of March 2018, with additional prizes worth $10 million for further milestones.[236][237] As of August 2016, 16 teams were reportedly participating in the competition.[238] In January 2018 the foundation announced that the prize would go unclaimed as none of the finalist teams would be able to make a launch attempt by the deadline.[239] In August 2016, the US government granted permission to US-based start-up Moon Express to land on the Moon.[240] This marked the first time that a private enterprise was given the right to do so. The decision is regarded as a precedent helping to define regulatory standards for deep-space commercial activity in the future, as thus far companies' operation had been restricted to being on or around Earth.[240] On 29 November 2018 NASA announced that nine commercial companies would compete to win a contract to send small payloads to the Moon in what is known as Commercial Lunar Payload Services. According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, "We are building a domestic American capability to get back and forth to the surface of the moon.".[241] Human presence See also: Human presence in space Human impact See also: List of artificial objects on the Moon, Space art § Art in space, and Planetary protection § Category V Remains of human activity, Apollo 17's Lunar Surface Experiments Package Beside the traces of human activity on the Moon, there have been some intended permanent installations like the Moon Museum art piece, Apollo 11 goodwill messages, Lunar plaque, the Fallen Astronaut memorial, and other artifacts. Fallen Astronaut Infrastructure Main article: Moonbase See also: Space infrastructure, Tourism on the Moon, and Colonization of the Moon Longterm missions continuing to be active are some orbiters such as the 2009 launched Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter surveiling the Moon for future missions, as well as some Landers such as the 2013 launched Chang'e 3 with its Lunar Ultraviolet Telescope still operational.[242] There are several missions by different agencies and companies planned to establish a longterm human presence on the Moon, with the Lunar Gateway as the currently most advanced project as part of the Artemis program. Concept art of the Lunar Gateway of the Artemis program in 2024 serving as a communication hub, science laboratory, short-term habitation and holding area for rovers in lunar orbit.[243] Astronomy from the Moon A false-color image of Earth in ultraviolet light taken from the surface of the Moon on the Apollo 16 mission. The day-side reflects a large amount of UV light from the Sun, but the night-side shows faint bands of UV emission from the aurora caused by charged particles.[244] For many years, the Moon has been recognized as an excellent site for telescopes.[245] It is relatively nearby; astronomical seeing is not a concern; certain craters near the poles are permanently dark and cold, and thus especially useful for infrared telescopes; and radio telescopes on the far side would be shielded from the radio chatter of Earth.[246] The lunar soil, although it poses a problem for any moving parts of telescopes, can be mixed with carbon nanotubes and epoxies and employed in the construction of mirrors up to 50 meters in diameter.[247] A lunar zenith telescope can be made cheaply with an ionic liquid.[248] In April 1972, the Apollo 16 mission recorded various astronomical photos and spectra in ultraviolet with the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph.[249] Living on the Moon Humans have stayed for some days on the Moon. One particular challenge for astronauts' daily life during their stay on the surface is the lunar dust sticking to their suits and being carried into their quaters. Subsequently the dust was tasted and smelled by the astronauts, calling it the "Apollo aroma".[250] This contamination poses a danger since the fine lunar dust can cause health issues.[250] In 2019 at least one plant seed sprouted in an experiment, carried along with other small life from Earth on the Chang'e 4 lander in its Lunar Micro Ecosystem.[251] Legal status Main article: Space law Although Luna landers scattered pennants of the Soviet Union on the Moon, and U.S. flags were symbolically planted at their landing sites by the Apollo astronauts, no nation claims ownership of any part of the Moon's surface.[252] Russia, China, India, and the U.S. are party to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty,[253] which defines the Moon and all outer space as the "province of all mankind".[252] This treaty also restricts the use of the Moon to peaceful purposes, explicitly banning military installations and weapons of mass destruction.[254] The 1979 Moon Agreement was created to restrict the exploitation of the Moon's resources by any single nation, but as of November 2016, it has been signed and ratified by only 18 nations,[255] none of which engages in self-launched human space exploration. Although several individuals have made claims to the Moon in whole or in part, none of these are considered credible.[256][257][258] In 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order called "Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources". The order emphasizes that "the United States does not view outer space as a 'global commons'" and calls the Moon Agreement "a failed attempt at constraining free enterprise."[259][260] In culture Luna, the Moon, from a 1550 edition of Guido Bonatti's Liber astronomiae See also: Moon in fiction and Tourism on the Moon Mythology Further information: Lunar deity, Selene, Luna (goddess), Man in the Moon, and Crescent Statue of Chandraprabha (meaning "as charming as the moon"), the eighth Tirthankara in Jainism, with the symbol of a crescent moon below it Sun and Moon with faces (1493 woodcut) The contrast between the brighter highlands and the darker maria creates the patterns seen by different cultures as the Man in the Moon, the rabbit and the buffalo, among others. In many prehistoric and ancient cultures, the Moon was personified as a deity or other supernatural phenomenon, and astrological views of the Moon continue to be propagated today. In Proto-Indo-European religion, the Moon was personified as the male god *Meh1not.[261] The ancient Sumerians believed that the Moon was the god Nanna,[262][263] who was the father of Inanna, the goddess of the planet Venus,[262][263] and Utu, the god of the sun.[262][263] Nanna was later known as Sîn,[263][262] and was particularly associated with magic and sorcery.[262] In Greco-Roman mythology, the Sun and the Moon are represented as male and female, respectively (Helios/Sol and Selene/Luna);[261] this is a development unique to the eastern Mediterranean[261] and traces of an earlier male moon god in the Greek tradition are preserved in the figure of Menelaus.[261] In Mesopotamian iconography, the crescent was the primary symbol of Nanna-Sîn.[263] In ancient Greek art, the Moon goddess Selene was represented wearing a crescent on her headgear in an arrangement reminiscent of horns.[264][265] The star and crescent arrangement also goes back to the Bronze Age, representing either the Sun and Moon, or the Moon and planet Venus, in combination. It came to represent the goddess Artemis or Hecate, and via the patronage of Hecate came to be used as a symbol of Byzantium. An iconographic tradition of representing Sun and Moon with faces developed in the late medieval period. The splitting of the moon (Arabic: انشقاق القمر‎) is a miracle attributed to Muhammad.[266] A song titled 'Moon Anthem' was released on the occasion of landing of India's Chandrayan-II on the Moon.[267] Calendar Further information: Lunar calendar, Lunisolar calendar, Metonic cycle, Blue moon, and Movable feast The Moon's regular phases make it a very convenient timepiece, and the periods of its waxing and waning form the basis of many of the oldest calendars. Tally sticks, notched bones dating as far back as 20–30,000 years ago, are believed by some to mark the phases of the Moon.[268][269][270] The ~30-day month is an approximation of the lunar cycle. The English noun month and its cognates in other Germanic languages stem from Proto-Germanic *mǣnṓth-, which is connected to the above-mentioned Proto-Germanic *mǣnōn, indicating the usage of a lunar calendar among the Germanic peoples (Germanic calendar) prior to the adoption of a solar calendar.[271] The PIE root of moon, *méh1nōt, derives from the PIE verbal root *meh1-, "to measure", "indicat[ing] a functional conception of the Moon, i.e. marker of the month" (cf. the English words measure and menstrual),[272][273][274] and echoing the Moon's importance to many ancient cultures in measuring time (see Latin mensis and Ancient Greek μείς (meis) or μήν (mēn), meaning "month").[275][276][277][278] Most historical calendars are lunisolar. The 7th-century Islamic calendar is an exceptional example of a purely lunar calendar. Months are traditionally determined by the visual sighting of the hilal, or earliest crescent moon, over the horizon.[279] Moonrise, 1884, painting by Stanisław Masłowski (National Museum, Kraków, Gallery of Sukiennice Museum) Lunar effect Main article: Lunar effect The lunar effect is a purported unproven correlation between specific stages of the roughly 29.5-day lunar cycle and behavior and physiological changes in living beings on Earth, including humans. The Moon has long been particularly associated with insanity and irrationality; the words lunacy and lunatic (popular shortening loony) are derived from the Latin name for the Moon, Luna. Philosophers Aristotle and Pliny the Elder argued that the full moon induced insanity in susceptible individuals, believing that the brain, which is mostly water, must be affected by the Moon and its power over the tides, but the Moon's gravity is too slight to affect any single person.[280] Even today, people who believe in a lunar effect claim that admissions to psychiatric hospitals, traffic accidents, homicides or suicides increase during a full moon, but dozens of studies invalidate these claims.[280][281][282][283][284] Notes Between 18.29° and 28.58° to Earth's equator.[1] There are a number of near-Earth asteroids, including 3753 Cruithne, that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term (Morais et al, 2002). These are quasi-satellites – they are not moons as they do not orbit Earth. For more information, see Other moons of Earth. The maximum value is given based on scaling of the brightness from the value of −12.74 given for an equator to Moon-centre distance of 378 000 km in the NASA factsheet reference to the minimum Earth–Moon distance given there, after the latter is corrected for Earth's equatorial radius of 6 378 km, giving 350 600 km. The minimum value (for a distant new moon) is based on a similar scaling using the maximum Earth–Moon distance of 407 000 km (given in the factsheet) and by calculating the brightness of the earthshine onto such a new moon. The brightness of the earthshine is [ Earth albedo × (Earth radius / Radius of Moon's orbit)2 ] relative to the direct solar illumination that occurs for a full moon. (Earth albedo = 0.367; Earth radius = (polar radius × equatorial radius)½ = 6 367 km.) The range of angular size values given are based on simple scaling of the following values given in the fact sheet reference: at an Earth-equator to Moon-centre distance of 378 000 km, the angular size is 1896 arcseconds. The same fact sheet gives extreme Earth–Moon distances of 407 000 km and 357 000 km. For the maximum angular size, the minimum distance has to be corrected for Earth's equatorial radius of 6 378 km, giving 350 600 km. Lucey et al. (2006) give 107 particles cm−3 by day and 105 particles cm−3 by night. Along with equatorial surface temperatures of 390 K by day and 100 K by night, the ideal gas law yields the pressures given in the infobox (rounded to the nearest order of magnitude): 10−7 Pa by day and 10−10 Pa by night. This age is calculated from isotope dating of lunar zircons. More accurately, the Moon's mean sidereal period (fixed star to fixed star) is 27.321661 days (27 d 07 h 43 min 11.5 s), and its mean tropical orbital period (from equinox to equinox) is 27.321582 days (27 d 07 h 43 min 04.7 s) (Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Ephemeris, 1961, at p.107). More accurately, the Moon's mean synodic period (between mean solar conjunctions) is 29.530589 days (29 d 12 h 44 min 02.9 s) (Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Ephemeris, 1961, at p.107). There is no strong correlation between the sizes of planets and the sizes of their satellites. Larger planets tend to have more satellites, both large and small, than smaller planets. With 27% the diameter and 60% the density of Earth, the Moon has 1.23% of the mass of Earth. The moon Charon is larger relative to its primary Pluto, but Pluto is now considered to be a dwarf planet. The Sun's apparent magnitude is −26.7, while the full moon's apparent magnitude is −12.7. 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Solar System portal Astronomy portal

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The Moon Archived 11 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Discovery 2008. BBC World Service.
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"Exploring the Moon". Lunar and Planetary Institute. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2007.
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Spudis, P.D. (1996). The Once and Future Moon. Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 978-1-56098-634-8. Archived from the original on 17 June 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
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Moon
at Wikipedia's sister projects

Definitions from Wiktionary
Media from Wikimedia Commons
News from Wikinews
Quotations from Wikiquote
Texts from Wikisource
Textbooks from Wikibooks
Travel guide from Wikivoyage
Resources from Wikiversity

NASA images and videos about the Moon
Albums of images and high-resolution overflight videos by Seán Doran, based on LROC data, on Flickr and YouTube
Video (04:56) – The Moon in 4K (NASA, April 2018) on YouTube
Video (04:47) – The Moon in 3D (NASA, July 2018) on YouTube

Cartographic resources

Unified Geologic Map of the Moon - United States Geological Survey
Moon Trek – An integrated map browser of datasets and maps for the Moon
The Moon on Google Maps, a 3-D rendition of the Moon akin to Google Earth
"Consolidated Lunar Atlas". Lunar and Planetary Institute. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature (USGS) List of feature names.
"Clementine Lunar Image Browser". U.S. Navy. 15 October 2003. Retrieved 12 April 2007.
3D zoomable globes:
"Google Moon". 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2007.
"Moon". World Wind Central. NASA. 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2007.
Aeschliman, R. "Lunar Maps". Planetary Cartography and Graphics. Retrieved 12 April 2007. Maps and panoramas at Apollo landing sites
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Kaguya (Selene) images
Lunar Earthside chart (4497 x 3150px)
Large image of the Moon's north pole area
Large image of Moon's south pole area (1000x1000px)

Observation tools

"NASA's SKYCAL – Sky Events Calendar". NASA. Archived from the original on 20 August 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
"Find moonrise, moonset and moonphase for a location". 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
"HMNAO's Moon Watch". 2005. Retrieved 24 May 2009. See when the next new crescent moon is visible for any location.

General

Lunar shelter (building a lunar base with 3D printing)

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The Moon
Outline
Physical
properties

Internal structure Topography Atmosphere Gravity field
Hill sphere Magnetic field Sodium tail Moonlight
Earthshine

A full moon
Orbit

Lunar distance Orbital elements
Distance
Perigee and apogee Libration Nodes
Nodal period Precession Syzygy
New moon Full moon Eclipses
Lunar eclipse
Total penumbral lunar eclipse Tetrad Solar eclipse Solar eclipses on the Moon Eclipse cycle Supermoon Tide
Tidal force Tidal locking Tidal acceleration Tidal range Lunar station

Surface and
features

Selenography Terminator Hemispheres
Near side Far side Poles
North pole South pole
Face Maria
List Mountains
Peak of eternal light Valleys Volcanic features
Domes Calderas Lava tubes Craters
List Ray systems Crater of eternal darkness South Pole–Aitken basin Soil
Swirls Rilles Wrinkle ridges Rocks
Lunar basalt 70017 Water Space weathering
Micrometeorite Sputtering Quakes Transient lunar phenomenon Selenographic coordinates

Science

Observation Libration Lunar theory Origin
Giant-impact hypothesis
Theia Lunar magma ocean Geology
Timescale
Late Heavy Bombardment Lunar meteorites KREEP Experiments
Lunar laser ranging ALSEP Lunar sample displays
Apollo 11 Apollo 17 Lunar seismology

Exploration

Missions
Apollo program Explorers Probes Landing Colonization Tourism Lunar resources

Time-telling and

Lunar calendar Lunisolar calendar Month
Lunar month
Nodal period Fortnight Sennight Lunar station Lunar distance

Phases and
names

New Full
Names Crescent Super and micro Blood Blue Black Dark Wet Tetrad

Related

Lunar deities Lunar effect Moon illusion Pareidolia
Man in the Moon Moon rabbit Craters named after people Artificial objects on the Moon Memorials on the Moon Moon in fiction Moon landing conspiracy theories Moon Treaty "Moon is made of green cheese" Natural satellite Double planet Lilith (hypothetical second moon) Splitting of the moon

Category Category Commons page Commons WikiProject WikiProject

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Earth
Continents

Africa Antarctica Asia Australia Europe North America South America

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.jpg
Oceans

Arctic Ocean Atlantic Ocean Indian Ocean Pacific Ocean Southern Ocean

Geology

Age of Earth Geology Earth science Extremes on Earth Future Geological history Geologic record Geophysics Gravity History of Earth Magnetic field Plate tectonics Structure

Atmosphere

Atmosphere of Earth Climate Global warming Weather

Environment

Biome Biosphere Ecology Ecosystem Human impact on the environment Evolutionary history of life Nature

Culture and society

Cartography List of countries Digital mapping In culture Earth Day World economy Etymology World history Time zones World

Planetary science

Earth's orbit Evolution of Solar System Geology of solar terrestrial planets Location in the Universe The Moon Solar System

Category Category Outline Outline of Earth Portal Earth sciences portal Portal Solar System portal

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Natural satellites of the Solar System
Planetary
satellites

Terrestrial Martian Jovian Saturnian Uranian Neptunian

Jupiter family.jpg
PIA19856-PlutoCharon-NewHorizons-Color-20150714.jpg
243 ida crop.jpg
Dwarf planet
satellites

Plutonian Haumean Makemakean Eridian

Minor-planet moons

· Near-Earth: Florence Didymos (Dimorphos) Moshup (Squannit) 1994 CC 2001 SN263
Main belt: Kalliope (Linus) Euphrosyne Daphne (Peneius) Eugenia (Petit-Prince) Sylvia (Romulus · Remus) Minerva (Aegis · Gorgoneion) Camilla Elektra Kleopatra (Alexhelios · Cleoselene) Ida (Dactyl) Pulcova Balam
Jupiter trojans: Patroclus (Menoetius) Hektor (Skamandrios) Eurybates
TNOs: Lempo (Hiisi · Paha) Quaoar (Weywot) 2002 UX25 Sila–Nunam Orcus (Vanth) Salacia (Actaea) Varda (Ilmarë) 2003 AZ84 Gonggong (Xiangliu) Gǃkúnǁʼhòmdímà (Gǃòʼé ǃHú) 2013 FY27

Ranked by size

Planetary-mass moon Ganymede
largest: 5268 km / 0.413 Earths Titan Callisto Io Moon Europa Triton Titania Rhea Oberon Iapetus Charon Umbriel Ariel Dione Tethys Dysnomia Enceladus Miranda Vanth Proteus Mimas Ilmarë Nereid Hiʻiaka Actaea Hyperion ...

Discovery timeline Inner moons Irregular moons List Planetary-mass moons Naming Subsatellite Regular moons Trojan moons

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Solar System
The Sun, the planets, their moons, and several trans-Neptunian objects

Sun Mercury Venus Earth Mars Ceres Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto Haumea Makemake Eris

Planets

Terrestrials
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Giants
Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Dwarfs
Ceres Pluto Haumea Makemake Eris

Moons

Earth
Moon other near-Earth objects Mars
Phobos Deimos Jupiter
Ganymede Callisto Io Europa all 79 Saturn
Titan Rhea Iapetus Dione Tethys Enceladus Mimas Hyperion Phoebe all 82 Uranus
Titania Oberon Umbriel Ariel Miranda all 27 Neptune
Triton Proteus Nereid all 14 Pluto
Charon Nix Hydra Kerberos Styx Eris
Dysnomia Haumean
Hiʻiaka Namaka Makemake
S/2015 (136472) 1

Lists

Comets Possible Dwarf planets Gravitationally rounded objects Minor planets Natural satellites Solar System models Solar System objects
by size by discovery date Interstellar/Circumstellar molecules

Small
Solar
System
bodies

Comets Damocloids Meteoroids Minor planets
Names and meanings moons Planetesimal Mercury-crossers Venus-crossers Venus trojans Near-Earth objects Earth-crossers Earth trojans Mars-crossers Mars trojans Asteroid belt Asteroids
Ceres Pallas Juno Vesta active first 1000 families exceptional Kirkwood gap Jupiter-crossers Jupiter trojans Centaurs Saturn-crossers Uranus-crossers Uranus trojans Neptune-crossers Neptune trojans Sednoids Cis-Neptunian objects Trans-Neptunian objects Kuiper belt
Cubewanos Plutinos Detached objects Hills cloud Oort cloud Scattered disc

Rings

Jovian Saturnian (Rhean) Charikloan Chironean Uranian Neptunian Haumean

Hypothetical
objects

Fifth giant Nemesis Phaeton Planet Nine Planet V Planet X Subsatellites Theia Tyche Vulcan Vulcanoids

Exploration
(outline)

Colonization Discovery
astronomy historical models timeline Human spaceflight
space stations list Space probes
timeline list Mercury Venus Moon
mining Mars Ceres Asteroids
mining Comets Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto Deep space

Formation
and
evolution

Accretion Accretion disk
Excretion disk Circumplanetary disk Circumstellar disc Circumstellar envelope Coatlicue Cosmic dust Debris disk Detached Objects Disrupted planet EXCEDE Exozodiacal dust Extraterrestrial materials
Sample-return mission Sample curation Giant-impact hypothesis Gravitational collapse Hills Cloud Interplanetary dust cloud Interplanetary medium Interplanetary space Interstellar cloud Interstellar dust Interstellar medium Interstellar space Kuiper belt Merging stars Molecular cloud Nebular hypothesis Oort cloud Outer space Planetary migration Planetary system Planetesimal Planet formation Protoplanetary disk Ring system Rubble pile Scattered disc Star formation

Outline of the Solar System Solar system.jpg Solar System portal Crab Nebula.jpg Astronomy portal The Earth seen from Apollo 17 with transparent background.png Earth Sciences portal

Solar System → Local Interstellar Cloud → Local Bubble → Gould Belt → Orion Arm → Milky Way → Milky Way subgroup → Local Group → Local Sheet → Virgo Supercluster → Laniakea Supercluster → Observable universe → Universe
Each arrow (→) may be read as "within" or "part of".

Astronomy Encyclopedia

Physics Encyclopedia

World

Index