India is now going to the Moon’s surface for the first time ever in history with Chandrayaan 2. India’s space agency ISRO is going to launch Chandrayaan 2 on Monday, July 22 at 2:43 pm IST from Sriharikota. Later this year, Chandrayaan 2 is scheduled to land its rover on the Lunar south polar region. All of us see the Moon but how many of us actually know about it? From the time immemorial, humanity has looked up and always wondered about the brightest and the nearest object in the night sky, the Moon. Legends and stories have been woven around the Moon and it has featured regularly in various mythological tales. It has also been worshipped in many ancient civilisations. In Hinduism, the Moon is worshipped as one of the navgrahas, the nine divine gods who rule nine celestial objects. The Moon is also the basis for many calenders and its daily and monthly positions have guided timekeepers and astronomers for thousands of years. The influence of its gravity on the oceanic tides has been known to many cultures for hundreds of years. Here are some interesting facts about the Moon which you must know before witnessing the historic launch of Chandrayaan 2:
- The Moon is the reason why Earth rotates steadily on its axis. The moon moderates wobbling of Earth on its axis. This ensures a relatively stable climate cycle on Earth which is running for over billions of years now
- The Moon’s spin on its axis and its speed rotating around the Earth is synchronous which is why from Earth, we see the same side of the Moon
- The Moon’s average distance from the Earth is 238,855 miles or 384,400 kilometers
- The orbit and rotation period of the Moon around the Earth is equal to 27.32 Earth days
- The equatorial radius of the Moon is 1,079.6 miles or 1.737.5 kilometers
- The Moon’s mass is 0.0123 of the Earth’s, which is a bit more than 1 percent
- The Moon’s gravity is 0.166 of the Earth’s. So, if your weight is 100 pounds or 45 kilograms on Earth, your weight will measure 16.6 pounds or 7.5 kilograms on the Moon
- The temperature on the Moon ranges from -414 to 253 degrees Fahrenheit or -248 to 123 degrees Celsius
- When we observe from the Earth, the Moon’s diameter looks changed over a “moonth”. it is because of the fact that the Moon has an elliptical orbit. Sometimes its distance is far from the Earth, which is called apogee and sometimes it is closer or at perigee
- The Moon’s terrain has some light areas and some darker areas. Its lighter areas are called the highlands while the dark spots are known as maria (Latin for seas)
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How did the Moon originate
There are many scientific and mythological theories about the origin of the Moon but most scientists believe that around 4.5 billion years ago, a celestial object equal to the size of Mars collided with Earth. Lots of debris went up in the space due to the massive impact of this collision. This debris and the impactor together accumulated and formed our natural satellite, the Moon.
The erstwhile Soviet Union was the first nation to send an unmanned mission to the Moon, Luna 1 and 2, in 1959. Seven nations, including India, have sent their missions to the Moon till April 2019.
First Human landing on Moon
Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, America’s Apollo 11 became the first manned mission on the Moon. Between 1969 to 1972, 12 American astronauts landed on the Moon and conducted studies of Moon’s soil mechanics, lunar ranging, meteoroids, magnetic fields, and solar wind.