5 facts about the Moon that will surprise you

There are several curious and surprising facts about the Moon. We gathered some of them, such as the artificial objects left on the Moon, its possible origin and more.

April 16
– 01:00 am

(updated at 3:39 am)

Do you know some of the most curious facts about the Moon? It is Earth’s closest neighbor in space, which makes it one of the most familiar objects in the sky. Even so, there is much to discover about our natural satellite, especially when it comes to strange and curious facts about the Moon.

The Moon is the biggest and brightest object in the night sky, but its role goes further: it contributes to our planet’s climate stability, causes the tides and much more. But after all, do you know how it formed? And have you ever stopped to think that there are several artificial objects on the lunar surface?

Check below these and other curious facts about our natural satellite:

1. The Moon was born from an impact

Photo: NASA, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, SVS/Jai & Neil Shet / Canaltech

The most accepted theory of how the Moon formed describes that it emerged from a large collision, which occurred between an object about the size of Mars and the Earth. The impact appears to have happened around 95 million years ago, and released debris that accumulated and formed what is now our natural satellite.

Since we’re talking about the Moon’s past, it’s worth remembering that when it was formed, it was much closer to us. Computer models suggest that, at that time, our natural satellite could have been just 25,000 kilometers from Earth — today, the average distance between Earth and the Moon is 384,000 kilometers.

2. The Moon is moving away from Earth

Since we are talking about the distance between the Earth and the Moon, it is worth remembering that our natural satellite gets further away every year. As lunar gravity affects our planet, it forms ocean tides while at the same time slowing Earth’s rotation.

Meanwhile, the Moon gains orbital speed and widens its orbit to maintain system dynamics. As a result, it moves 3.78 centimeters away from us every year, gaining orbital speed and, even, “stealing” Earth’s rotational speed.

3. Moon dust is weird and dangerous

The dust that covers the surface of the Moon is formed by crushed rocks and is easily impregnated on the surfaces — the astronauts of the Apollo program say so, since, during the entry and exit of the lunar module, the dust entered there and affected instruments, mechanisms and more. Furthermore, it is highly abrasive and has damaged spacesuits.

Harrison Schmitt, an astronaut on Apollo 17, described that lunar dust smelled like gunpowder. Another curious feature of the dust is that it caused so-called “lunar fever” in astronauts who inhaled it, such as sneezing and nasal congestion. To this day, space agencies are looking for ways to deal with these particles and avoid the damage caused by them.

4. The Moon has water

For centuries, astronomers have debated whether there is water on the Moon. It was in 1645 that the Dutch astronomer Michael van Langren published the first known map of our natural satellite, which depicted its dark spots as “maria”, the Latin word for “seas”. Today, we already know that these regions are plains created by volcanic eruptions.

However, this does not mean that there is no water on the Moon. There have already been detections of ice trapped in the dust and minerals of lunar regions in permanent shadows, and in 2020, NASA’s SOFIA observatory revealed water on the illuminated part of the lunar surface.

5. There are artificial objects on the Moon

There are a number of man-made objects on the Moon, such as a golden olive branch representing peace, lunar rovers, a plaque honoring deceased astronauts and more. Ah, the more than 90 bags full of the excrement of astronauts from the Apollo program missions were also left there.

In case you’re wondering about flags left by astronauts, like the one planted by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during Apollo 11, know that they’ve probably lost their color as they’ve spent decades exposed to sunlight. As there is no wind on our natural satellite, the footprints left by astronauts must remain there for millions of years.

Source: Astronomy, National Geographic, NASA, Ohio State University, RMG

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