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Curious facts about cosmic life and their inhabitants.

"Ganymede's ocean might be organized like a Dagwood sandwich," commented Dr. Steve Vance in a May 1, 2014 statement. Dr. Vance, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, went on to explain the weird moon's resemblance to the Blondie cartoon character's famous multi-layered sandwiches. The study, headed by Dr. Vance, provides new theoretical indications for the team's "club sandwich" model, originally proposed in 2013. The research appears in the journal Planetary and Space Science.



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Launched as GRAIL A and GRAIL B in September 2011, the probes were renamed Ebb and Flow by schoolchildren in Montana. The probes operated in almost circular orbit near the lunar poles at an altitude of approximately 34 miles, until their mission came to an end in December 2012. The distance between the twin probes altered a bit as they soared over areas of lesser and greater gravity that were caused by visible topological features on the Moon's surface, such as impact craters and mountains--as well as by masses that were secreted beneath the lunar surface.



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This cycle has been appropriately named the 'dark moon'. The cycle from one dark moon to the next is called a lunation and an average lunation calculates at about 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds (roughly) To be fair, it does deviate in relation to the moons erratic orbit patterns and is affected by the gravity conflict between the sun and the moon.

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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.



Earlier theories suggested that the craggy outline of a region of the lunar surface, named Oceanus Procellarum--or the Ocean of Storms--had resulted from a large asteroid impact. If this theory had been correct, the basin it had dug out would represent the largest asteroid impact basin scarring the lunar surface. However, mission scientists, scrutinizing GRAIL data, now believe that they have discovered new evidence that the craggy outline of this rectangular region--approximately 1,600 miles across--was actually caused by the formation of ancient rift valleys.



What is a New Moon? The moon goes through different phases, in fact there are eight different phases all told with the new moon being the first phase (No, there is no 'old' moon phase). When the sun and the moon have an equal ecliptic longitude it appears that the moon just 'disappears'. This is because during the new moon phase the moon is on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, causing the dark side of the moon to face our planet. More accurately, during the new moon phase it's hidden behind the sun from sunrise to sunset giving us the impression that it has disappeared.