Our Moon has been a source of wonder to humanity, since time began. It is our nearest neighbour in the Universe, and the only other place in the Universe, to have been visited by humans.
Average diameter: 3,474 kilometres, or 2,159 miles
Mean distance from Earth: 385,000 kilometres, or 239,000 miles
Tilt: 1.5 degrees
Rotation period: 27.32 Earth days
Orbital Period: 27.32 Earth days
The surface of the Moon is covered in craters, mountains, rock and fine-grained dust. There is always something fascinating to see, everywhere you look. These close-up photographs of the surface of the Moon, were taken by the Apollo 16 astronauts from lunar orbit.
Image credits: Apollo 16, NASA.
When the full Moon occurs at the same time that the Moon is closest to the Earth (perigee), the event is referred to as a Super Moon (left). When the full Moon occurs at the same time that the Moon is furthest from the Earth (apogee), the event is referred to as a Micro Moon (right). Super Moon events can appear more than 10% larger and about 30% brighter than Micro Moon events.
Average distances of Supermoons and Micromoons.
Image credit: timeanddate.com
The Earth is a colourful contrast to the grey lunar terrain.
Image credit: Kaguya, JAXA
The craters near the Moon's poles are in perpetual darkness.
Image credit: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA.
The Apollo Program refers to a series of missions undertaken by NASA in the 1960s and 1970s. The primary objective was to land a man on the Moon, and return him safely to the Earth. Successful lunar landings occurred a total of six times, landing 12 men on the Moon and returning them all safely to the Earth.
Commander: Virgil "Gus" Grissom
Senior Pilot: Edward White
Pilot: Roger Chafee
Planned launch: 21st February, 1967
Planned splashdown: 07th March, 1967
Mission never took place, as all crew-members were killed in a fire during ground testing. Apollo 2 to 6 were test launches of rockets and spacecraft, without any crew aboard.
Commander: Walter Shirra
Lunar Module Pilot: Walter Cunningham
Command Module Pilot: Don Eisele
Launch: 11th October, 1968
Splashdown: 22nd October, 1968
Earth orbit mission.
Commander: Frank Borman
Lunar Module Pilot: William "Bill" Anders
Command Module Pilot: James "Jim" Lovell, Jnr.
Launch: 21st December, 1968
Splashdown: 27th December, 1968
First manned mission to leave Earth orbit, and first humans to go around the Moon.
Commander: James McDivitt
Lunar Module Pilot: Russell "Rusty" Schweikart
Command Module Pilot: David "Dave" Scott
Lunar Module: Spider
Command Module: Gumdrop
Launch: 03rd March, 1969
Splashdown: 13th March, 1969
Earth orbit mission.
Commander: Thomas Stafford
Lunar Module Pilot: Eugene Cernan
Command Module Pilot: John Young
Lunar Module: Snoopy
Command Module: Charlie Brown
Launch: 18th May, 1969
Splashdown: 26th May, 1969
Practice run for the first lunar landing.
Commander: Neil Armstrong
Lunar Module Pilot: Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
Command Module Pilot: Michael Collins
Lunar Module: Eagle
Command Module: Columbia
Launch: 16th July, 1969
Lunar Landing: 20th July, 1969
Splashdown: 24th July, 1969
Distance travelled on lunar surface: About 250 metres, or 270 yards
Samples collected: 21.7 kilograms, or 47.8 pounds
First humans on the Moon.
Commander: Charles Conrad, Jnr.
Lunar Module Pilot: Alan Bean
Command Module Pilot: Richard "Dick" Gordon
Lunar Module: Intrepid
Command Module: Yankee Clipper
Launch: 14th November, 1969
Lunar Landing: 19th November, 1969
Splashdown: 24th November, 1969
Distance travelled on lunar surface: 1.5 kilometres, or 0.9 miles
Samples collected: 34.3 kilograms, or 75.6 pounds
Commander: James "Jim" Lovell, Jnr.
Lunar Module Pilot: Fred Haise
Command Module Pilot: John "Jack" Swigert
Lunar Module: Aquarius
Command Module: Odyssey
Launch: 11th April, 1970
Splashdown: 17th April, 1970
Lunar landing cancelled due to a major explosion in the Service Module.
Commander: Alan Shepard
Lunar Module Pilot: Edgar Mitchell
Command Module Pilot: Stuart "Stu" Roosa
Lunar Module: Antares
Command Module: Kitty Hawk
Launch: 31st January, 1971
Lunar Landing: 05th February, 1971
Splashdown: 09th February, 1971
Distance travelled on lunar surface: 3.3 kilometres, or 2 miles
Samples collected: 44.8 kilograms, or 98.8 pounds
Commander: David Scott
Lunar Module Pilot: James Irwin
Command Module Pilot: Alfred Worden
Launch: 26th July, 1971
Lunar Landing: 30th July, 1971
Splashdown: 07th August, 1971
Distance travelled on lunar surface: 27.9 kilometres, or 17.3 miles
Samples collected: 76.8 kilograms, or 169.3 pounds
Commander: John Young
Lunar Module Pilot: Charles "Charlie" Duke
Command Module Pilot: Thomas "Ken" Mattingly
Lunar Module: Orion
Command Module: Casper
Launch: 16th April, 1972
Lunar Landing: 21st April, 1972
Splashdown: 27th April, 1972
Distance travelled on lunar surface: 27 kilometres, or 16.8 miles
Samples collected: 95.8 kilograms, or 211.2 pounds
Click the "Apollo 16" button to learn more about this extraordinary lunar mission.
Commander: Eugene "Gene" Cernan
Lunar Module Pilot: Harrison Schmitt
Command Module Pilot: Ronald "Ron" Evans
Lunar Module: Challenger
Command Module: America
Launch: 07th December, 1972
Lunar Landing: 11th December, 1972
Splashdown: 19th December, 1972
Distance travelled on lunar surface: 30 kilometres, or 18.6 miles
Samples collected: 110 kilograms, or 242.5 pounds
Click on the "Apollo Lunar Surface Journal" button, to learn about the Apollo missions in detail, as well as browse thousands of photos taken prior to, during and after each mission. Hundreds of high resolution photos taken while the astronauts were on the Moon's surface are also available to view and download.
The Apollo 17 lunar mission landed in the valley of Taurus-Littrow. This view of the command module with the valley of Taurus-Littrow below, was captured by the astronauts in the lunar module, before final descent to the lunar surface.
Image credit: Apollo 17, NASA.