Of Moon and man
After reaching the climax of the historical space race between the Soviet Union and the United States, the popularity of the Moon has been seriously compromised by thirty years of Solar System exploration. The Voyagers’ ‘grand tour’ of the outer planets unveiled the secrets of complex ring systems and of immense cloudy atmospheres, but above all the twin spacecraft sent back to Earth spectacular images of a multitude of brand new planetary moons. The Galileian satellites — different from each other as much as they are dynamically tightly bound — are four new worlds to explore. The mysterious atmosphere of Titan has for two decades fascinated astronomers, until in January 2005 ESA’s Huygens probe pierced the layers of dense clouds and landed on a frozen methane landscape. The scars on the surface of Miranda... the geysers spouting from the interior of Triton... the battered surface of Mimas... the bright white globe of Enceladus... to name a few, have attracted the interest of scientists and of the public at large. However, the Moon — our Moon — remains a celestial body unique in the Solar System. The lunar motion has puzzled astronomers of all epochs, and its influence on life and widespread religions and cults has followed the development of man and civilisation. The return of humans to the surface of the Moon has been recently announced — this time, to stay.
KeywordsPeriodic Orbit Solar Eclipse Lunar Orbit Galileian Satellite Lunar Eclipse
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