Our closest planetary neighbor is also the only celestial object beyond Earth visited by humans. Through decades of ground-based observation and exploration by spacecraft and astronauts, the Moon has become the cornerstone for understanding how planetary bodies throughout the solar system form and evolve. In particular, many of the processes we observe to shape the surfaces, interiors, and even the atmospheres of planets have analogs on the Moon. At the same time, the Moon is a unique body with its own violent history of impact bombardment, volcanic eruptions, and exposure to the harsh space environment.
In this talk, I will summarize the new view of the Moon emerging from 10 years of observation by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). I will highlight discoveries from LRO and other recent missions, which shed light on the Moon’s origins, volcanic activity, surface evolution, and especially the tantalizing possibility of polar ice deposits. As NASA once again pivots toward lunar exploration, these discoveries and unresolved questions will guide human and robotic missions in the years to come.