Public Lectures

The Real Dark Side of the Moon

Published on September 18, 2018

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Speaker:Paul Hayne
Date:Wednesday, Oct 03, 2018
Time:7:30 PM
Location:LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Seminar Abstract:

A common misconception in astronomy is that part of the Moon remains continuously shadowed, popularized by legendary rock band Pink Floyd’s 1973 album, “Dark Side of the Moon.” Watching the Moon change phases confirms that, in fact, there is no dark side – all sides see the Sun at different times during the month. Yet, a peculiar feature of the lunar orbit produces shadows in craters at its poles, which have remained in darkness for billions of years. So, there really is a dark side of the Moon!

What surprises lurk within the Moon’s perpetual shadows? Recent observations from orbiting spacecraft such as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission have revealed the presence of vast ice deposits, which may provide rocket fuel and drinking water for astronauts on future deep space missions. Scientific interest in these ice deposits is also high: they may record a billion-year history of comet impacts, solar wind, and perhaps even a short-lived lunar atmosphere produced by volcanic eruptions.

In this presentation, Dr. Hayne will take us on a journey to the coldest, darkest reaches of our Solar System – the Moon’s permanently shadowed craters. Here, we will find remnants of the Moon’s violent past. We will also discuss LASP’s involvement in NASA’s upcoming lunar exploration program, including the recently announced Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, and CubeSat missions such as Lunar Flashlight.