Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Well, when you put it that way...

Unless you're terrifyingly ignorant or a member of the fairly deranged group of people who think we faked the whole thing, you're doubtless aware the the United States has landed astronauts on the moon. No, not recently. As if the current administration could find its way to the bathroom in the dark, much less another planetary body. But I digress...

As a result of these moon landings, our continued use of robotic probes and telescopes, and general scientific prowess there's this impression out there that we have "explored the moon." I mean, hell, we sent missions to it and all, what more could you want?

Well, as it happens, a lot, because as I said before the Earth's moon is effectively a planetary body. Its average radius, at 1,737.1 kilometers is 71% of the planet Mercury's radius of 2439.7 kilometers. It's mass is about 22% of Mercury's and about 1% of the Earth's* so, basically, we're talking about a very large body that is fairly close to our own world. As such it would be a little cocky to think that we had explored the whole thing. But still, we've been at this for a while, so we've explored a lot of it, right?


Eh. Not so much. Recently, NASA put together a pair of maps that give an idea of just how much of the moon we explored with Apollo 11. And for comparison, these maps are superimposed over a soccer field and a baseball field. Check it out:

Kinda humbling, no?

* Keep in mind that radius and mass don't change linearly in relation to each other. As there is more mass, there is more gravity, which tends to compact material to a greater degree. It's also well understood that the moon is relatively poor in dense heavy elements compared to the Earth and, so, has a lot of volume for its mass.

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