Cat S Eye Nebula NASA Hubble



The largest, shining object in Earth's starlit night sky, our Moon has long been the source of mystery, myth, and poetry--a captivating inspiration for those who stare at the sky in wonder. But Earth's Moon is a very real object--the only body beyond our own planet that we have actually set foot upon, leaving our lingering footprints in its distant, alien dust. Earth's Moon has been with us almost from the very beginning, and even though it is our planet's closest companion in space, it has nonetheless managed to keep some of its ancient secrets very well. In September 2015, astronomers released a new study that shed light on Earth's bewitching companion's ancient and secretive past. Although our Moon now appears to be unchanging, as if it has always been exactly the same as it appears now--going through its beautiful and, yet, familiar phases, and controlling our ocean tides--in the distant past, things were actually very different. There was a time when Earth had no Moon. About 4.5 billion years ago, when our ancient Solar System was still forming, the dark night sky above our primordial planet was moonless. At this time, the Earth was about 60 percent formed, although it did have a differentiated crust, mantle, and core. This was a very chaotic and violent era in our Solar System's past, with planets first forming out of blobs of primordial dust, gas, and rock. During this era, frequently likened to a "cosmic shooting gallery", collisions between the still-forming planets were commonplace. Orbits were not as orderly as they are now. When President John F. Kennedy stated in 1960's that the US will go to the moon in less than a decade, most people were extremely skeptical. The reason for this stemmed from the fact that USSR had shown more accomplishments in the space race after the launch of Sputnik, which was the world's first satellite. Naturally, the skepticism was unfounded, since the US put all of its efforts in to the Moon program as billions of dollars were put in to it. The development of the Saturn rocket as well as the development of the Apollo lunar module took less than a decade, since the whole heart and soul of the American public was put into the Lunar program. Even the various tragedies such as the loss of Astronauts in the Apollo fire tragedy didn't deter the public. As a result, 1969 was an important year in the human history as mankind stepped into Lunar soil for the first time. Sadly, the program was discontinued and since the 1970's, no man has even stepped into the Lunar soil ever again.