Astronaut Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin put two science experiments on the moon’s surface during Apollo 11.
We went to the moon half a century ago, and have not been back since. During that time, we have launched robotic spacecraft all over our solar system and learn about distant worlds. In the meantime, scientists will continue to think about it in the rockies, a visitor to our night skies.
The Apollo missions helped us to solve many of the moon’s secrets, but there are still many more questions that remain unanswered, and there are even a few that have been incurred as a result of the samples brought back by the Apollo astronauts.
“There has been lots of scientific questions that may have arisen in part from the Apollo evidence,” Roger Launius, former NASA chief historian, told the Space.com. “There’s a whole series of things to win back-to information, such as the collection of additional materials, and the collection of new data.
Related: 10 Things You Didn’t know About the Moon
As NASA prepares to send astronauts to the moon by the year 2024, and in the midst of the mixed messages from the US government for the next mission, the scientists acknowledge that the moon is still a game that we need to explore.
“We have a lot of questions,” Sarah Noble, the fallen, the next-generation of sample analysis, and program executive at NASA headquarters in Washington, d.c., told the Space.com. “What have you done in the last ten years, and we have a lot of things in the orbit of the moon, which gave us an overall view.
“We don’t know where to go to in order to answer these questions right now,” Noble added.
Nearly 40 years after the return to the moon, and the water was to be found in the rock samples brought back by the Apollo 15 mission. The 2009 discovery opened up a whole new field of lunar research, because they found that the water there would not have been on the moon since its creation.
The water on the moon, it is of crucial importance for the future development of the area, as it can be used for drinking water and rocket fuel.
“For over 40 years, and we thought that the samples were completely dry,” Noble said. “We have to understand that there is a water cycle, but we don’t understand how to use it.”
We are not able to understand the water cycle yet, but we do have the tools to crack down on it now.
“From my perspective, we have all of the tools that didn’t exist before,” Paul Hayne, an assistant professor in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado, told the Space.com.
Hayne added that the tools have been so miniaturized that they can fit easily in the aircraft.
Apart from water, recent evidence has also suggested that there is ice on the moon. A 2018 study has confirmed that there has been frozen stuff on the ground, the moon’s north and south poles.
“The one [question] that I am very much interested in the question of the ice in the poles,” Hayne said. “We would like to know how much – [of ice cream there is, and it is true, and the collection of new data to investigate this.”
In order to detect ice on the surface of the moon, Hayne said that, there are new tools, such as ir instruments, and for the detection of the chemical fingerprint of the ice, thermal imaging cameras, and other heat transmission from the tool.
Examples of the basalt rock, or solidified of molten lava, brought back by the Apollo missions, and were mostly old, but some were as young as one billion years ago, according to Noble. (Scientists believe that the moon is 4.51 billion years old.)
Scientists know that volcanic eruptions occurred on the moon’s surface, but they are still confused about the timeline in which these eruptions have taken place, and when the moon is no longer volcanically active.
“There are still a number of questions about how to be active, the moon is now, so it’s kind of a hot area,” Hayne said.
He added that, however, does not know when the volcanic eruptions stopped taking action, and we really don’t know what is causing it in the first place, or they may have been triggered by a giant impact on the moon, when the moon is radioactive.
Recent research has pointed to the fact that the moon rocks are rich in radioactive elements such as uranium, and in 2014 a paper in Nature has suggested that the heat-producing elements such as uranium, thorium, and potassium, which makes the surface of the moon to expand and contract as it gets warmer and cooler. The cracks on the surface caused by this process, it would have to be allowed for the lava to flow through them.
Hayne is suggesting that scientists need to revise their models of the moon’s volcanic activity, as the majority of them think that it stopped being active for a long, long time ago, that’s not true, some of the scientists believe that the moon is still tectonically active.
There is also a debate about how old is our moon, with ages ranging from 4.5 billion years to a much younger 150-to 200-million years ago.
According to Noble, the scientists have tried to estimate the moon’s age in the analysis of the moon rocks brought back by Apollo, and seek to be the date on which the craters are formed on the surface of the moon, but there has been no consensus up to now.
“It’s one of the big questions that we want answered,” Noble said.
However, Noble added, it’s not just about how to determine the moon’s age, but rather it is to figure out the ages of the other rocky bodies in the solar system, like Mercury or Mars.
As soon as we get to know what is the age of the moon, we can make an estimate of the age of the other planets by comparing the number of craters between the moon and on to Mars, or Venus. The more craters, the surface age of the rocky body.
Gather as much information as possible on the moon that will ultimately lead to a better understanding of other planetary objects in our solar system, we would like to explore in the future.
“The moon will help us understand how to live and work in other bodies, for example, when we go to Mars,” she said.
In the midst of an ongoing debate as to whether or not we have to go back to the moon, and the moon, scientists confirm that it is absolutely necessary that we do it for the sake of the future of space exploration, and to find out more about our own planet, earth.
“As a lunar scientist, I am very excited about the knowledge that we will be able to do it on the moon,” Noble said. “Our current plan is to get rid of the moon, so that we can move forward and press on to Mars.”
Hayne agreed. “We still have a lot to learn still about the moon, which not only tells us about the other planets in the solar system, as well as the Earth itself,” he said.
“In the end, it’s very exciting,” Hayne added. “It’s inspiring to people. There is no substitute for having boots on the ground.”
- What NASA’s Apollo Astronauts went to the Moon
- Apollo 11, 50: A Comprehensive Guide to the Historic Mission to the Moon
- We have to Learn from the Apollo Moon Landings, But What about When We get Back?
The original article Space.com.