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On the origin of the Moon and findings from the Apollo missions

How the Apollo missions transformed our understanding of the Moon’s origin

This article was originally published on The Planetary Society as a contribution for the Apollo 11 landing anniversary. This is a mirror of the same.
View of the Moon’s north pole seen by the Galileo spacecraft as it flew by on December 7, 1992. Source: NASA Flickr
Simplistic representation of the Giant Impact Hypothesis. Source: Me, Flickr

Findings in support of the GIH

Magma ocean

KREEP is an acronym built from the letters K (Potassium), REE (rare-earth elements) and P (Phosphorus).
Lunar crust formation. Source: Lunar and Planetary Institute

The lunar core

Moon’s internal structure. Source: Wikipedia
It is also noteworthy that Earth has the highest density of all the planets in the solar system, which could be explained by the absorption of Theia’s core  given the proposed properties of the early Earth and Theia.

Volatile depletion

Findings against the GIH

Titanium isotopes

The lunar samples containing Ti (Titanium) have the same value as the Earth samples, 150 times less than the spread in Ti values shown by meteorite samples. Source: PSRD

A shared water source for the Earth and the Moon

Oxygen isotopes for the Earth-Moon system and Mars. Lunar composition is identical to that of the Earth. Source: K Pahlevan and D Stevenson, Geological and Planetary Sciences Division, Caltech

The takeaway

In other words, what we need are more missions to the surface of the Moon.

Things are seldom black or white in cutting-edge science. It’s all gray, much like the Moon itself.

Earth rose over the lunar horizon as Apollo 8 completed the first manned trip behind the far side of the Moon. The mission also returned the first live television coverage of the lunar surface, on December 24, 1968.. Source: Wikipedia
Thanks to Phil Stooke from University of Western Ontario for fact-checking this article. He also has articles on The Planetary Society of interest.



Privately funded mission to land on the Moon in 2020

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Jatan Mehta

Space and Moon exploration writer ~ Contributing Editor, The Planetary Society ~ Thinker | Website: