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To the Moon and Beyond!


Chandrayaan-1′s journey to the moon

—Image courtesy ISRO

With all the discoveries coming from Mars these days, it’s easy to overlook the exciting developments in moon exploration. Just this week the European Space Agency (ESA) reported that India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft is making progress on its two-year mission to map the lunar surface in 3D. Over the past few weeks, a series of orbit-raising maneuvers have taken the probe closer and closer to the moon, according to the ESA. It is expected finally enter a lunar orbit on Saturday.

Next week the National Geographic Channel is bringing some of its own moon excitement to television screens with Direct from the Moon. The player below has a great preview video with footage I’ve never seen before, including shots from the Kaguya probe launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in 2007.

The program describes America’s plans to return to the moon in 2020 and establish a base. It airs Monday, November 17 at 9PM ET/PT. For more information, visit the National Geographic Channel website.

It’s exciting to think of how far we’ve come in our knowledge of space in such a short time. I was rooting around on the Web and found the film below. It’s a 1920s silent film called Heavenly Bodies that covers topics like gravity and astronomy. The film is a bit creaky, but not too shabby for a 90-year-old effort. When I look at something like this, I’m always left wondering what we’ll know 90 years from now.

Heavenly Bodies is a public domain film from the Prelinger Archives.

–Stephen E. Mather
filling in for Victoria Jaggard