Where No Man Has Gone Before: A History of Apollo Lunar Exploration Missions|
Scientific Questions in
Major questions in the
exploration of the Moon fall chiefly in three categories of basic problems:
The possibility that ancient
rocks and deposits on the Moon's surface may contain a unique record of events
related to the formation or accretion of the terrestrial planets gives the scientific
exploration of the moon unusual potential significance. There is also the minor
possibility of finding prebiotic material. . . .
- structure and processes
of the lunar interior,
- the composition and structure
of the surface of the Moon and the processes modifying the surface, and
- the history or evolutionary
sequence of events by which the Moon has arrived at its present configuration.
The major questions are
Structure and Processes
of the Lunar Interior
- Is the internal structure
of the Moon radially symmetrical like the Earth, and if so, is it differentiated?
Specifically, does it have a core and does it have a crust?
- What is the geometric
shape of the Moon? How does the shape depart from fluid equilibrium? Is there
a fundamental difference in morphology and history between the sub-Earth and
averted faces of the Moon?
- What is the present internal
energy regime of the Moon? Specifically, what is the present heat flow at
the surface and what are the sources of this heat? Is the Moon seismically
active and is there active volcanism? Does the Moon have an internally produced
and Processes of the Lunar Surface
- What is the average composition
of the rocks at the surface of the Moon and how does the composition vary
from place to place? Are volcanic rocks present on the surface of the Moon?
- What are the principal
processes responsible for the present relief of the lunar surface?
- What is the present tectonic
pattern on the Moon and distribution of tectonic activity?
- What are the dominant
processes of erosion, transport, and deposition of material on the lunar surface?
- What volatile substances
are present on or near the surface of the Moon or in a transitory lunar atmosphere?
- Is there evidence of
organic or proto-organic materials on or near the lunar surface? Are living
organisms present beneath the surface?
History of the Moon
- What is the age of the
Moon? What is the range of age of the stratigraphic units on the lunar surface
and what is the age of the oldest exposed material? Is a primordial surface
- What is the history of
dynamical interaction between the Earth and the Moon?
- What is the thermal history
of the Moon? What has been the distribution of tectonic and possible volcanic
activity in time?
- What has been the flux
of solid objects striking the lunar surface in the past and how has it varied
- What has been the flux
of cosmic radiation and high-energy solar radiation over the history of the
- What past magnetic fields
may be recorded in the rocks at the Moon's surface?
Listed here are the "Fifteen Questions" that formed the basis for subsequent
Planning in lunar exploration. Source: National Academy of Sciences-National Research
Council Publication 1403, Space Research: Directions for the Future
(Washington, 1966), pp. 21-22.