Lunar and Planetary Institute






Moon 101 Lecture Series

These lectures were produced by NASA and posted on this website with permission.

The following presentations are included in the lecture series.

Introduction to the Moon, Dr. Paul Spudis
The Lunar Environment, Dr. Wendell Mendell
Physiography and Geology of the Moon, Dr. Paul Spudis
The Lunar Surface, Dr. Jeff Plescia
The Lunar Crust, Dr. Gary Lofgren
The Lunar Interior, Dr. Jeff Plescia
The Lunar Polar Environment, Dr. Ben Bussey
A Brief, Selective History of the Apollo Program, Dr. Dean Eppler
Future Scientific Exploration of the Moon, Dr. Paul Spudis
Lunar Meteorites, Dr. Kevin Righter

NOTE: Slide only versions of the lectures are available at Spudis Lunar Resources.


Introduction to the Moon

In the first presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Paul Spudis gives an introduction to the Moon, providing an overview of the more detailed Moon 101 lectures to follow. The presentation begins by describing the nature of the Moon as a heavily cratered rocky planet, and compares the general properties of the Moon to those of the Earth and Mars. Global images and elemental composition maps are then followed by discussions of: the thermal and micrometeorite environments on the lunar surface; the Moon's orbit and resulting eclipses and lunar librations as viewed from Earth; surface topography; moment of inertia; surface morphology and physiography; landscapes and terrains; the surface lighting environment; regolith and dust; and the origin of the Moon. The presentation concludes with a review of past and current robotic exploration missions to the Moon.

Lesson presented: 06⁄04⁄2008
Lesson produced: 09⁄05⁄2008

Duration: 56 minutes 5 seconds


The Lunar Environment

Dr. Mendell's presentation addresses a multitude of aspects of the Lunar Environment. The first section reviews the many external factors that act upon the Moon and how their effects that need to be understood by the lunar designer or explorer. He chooses to discuss the environmental factors through their connection to the Moon's location in the universe, in the Milky Way Galaxy, in our solar system near the Sun, and in proximity to the Earth. The effects of the solar wind plasma, meteoroids, and solar insolation are important on the Moon because it lacks a magnetic field and a substantial atmosphere. He describes the Earth-Moon system as a “binary planet” and discusses the Lunar Coordinate System and the importance of the Moon’s polar regions. The second part of Dr. Mendell's presentation covers the implications of the environment for living and working on the Moon. We have little to no experience in habitat design for a low-gravity planet. The Moon's 'lumpy' structure introduces irregularities in its gravitational field, increasing the cost of maintaining low orbits. He goes on to discuss the Moon's tenuous atmosphere, its unusual surface reflectivity, ejecta from surface impacts (why we need to worry about this), lunar seismic events (moonquakes, impact events – even ours), and lastly emanations of gases from beneath the surface.

Lesson presented: June 18, 2008
Lesson published: June 27, 2008

Duration: 54 minutes 12 seconds


Physiography and Geology of the Moon

Dr. Paul Spudis discusses the physiography and geology of the moon including: terrains, landforms, topography (photogeology), impact crater formation, excavation, ejecta emplacement, secondaries, impact melting and shock metamorphism, lunar meteorites, flux through time; cataclysm, periodicity, correlation with terrestrial record and other planets.

Lesson presented: July 2, 2008
Lesson published: July 9, 2008

Duration: 58 minutes 40 seconds


The Lunar Surface

The fourth presentation in the Moon 101 series, Dr. Jeff Plescia discusses – dust, rocks, slopes, trafficability (geotechnical properties); formation and evolution of regolith, interface with bedrock; crater size-frequency distributions, exotic components, highland⁄mare mixing, vertical and lateral transport of material; chemical and mineral composition, physical state, properties, and surface characteristics.

Lesson presented: July 16, 2008
Lesson produced: July 23, 2008

Duration: 49 minutes 27 seconds


The Lunar Crust

Dr. Gary Lofgren discusses the current understanding of the crust of the Moon. The presentation begins with a brief overview of the Moon's surface, and discusses the prevailing Magma Ocean Theory resulting in the formation of the primary, or original, lunar crust. The crust was subsequently modified by impact bombardment and volcanic activity. Compositional variations in the lunar crust are then described as three major terrains: Procellarum KREEP terrain, Feldspathic Highlands terrain, and the South Pole-Aitken basin terrain. It is noted that studying rock samples is the key to understanding the lunar crust. The presentation then focuses on the characteristics and ages of the major rock types found on the Moon: basaltic rocks from mare lava flows, anorthositic rocks in the lunar highlands, impact breccias and melt rocks, and volcanic glasses. The lecture concludes with a brief review of the rock sampling conducted during the Apollo missions, and lessons learned for future lunar surface exploration.

Lesson presented: 07⁄30⁄2008
Lesson produced: 08⁄21⁄2008

Duration: 54 minutes 11 seconds


The Lunar Interior

In the sixth presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Jeff Plescia discusses the current understanding of the interior of the Moon. The presentation begins with a brief overview of the Moon from a geophysical perspective, and discusses the prevailing Giant impact Theory and Magma Ocean Theory resulting in the formation of the Moon and its differentiation into crust, mantle, and core. The presentation then focuses on the current understanding of the chemistry, mineralogy, and thickness of the lunar crust; the boundaries, depth, and mineralogy of the mantle; and the size and composition of the lunar core. Geophysical parameters of the Moon are then discussed, including: the seismic nature of the Moon, including shallow, deep, and thermal moonquakes and impact events; the lunar gravity field; magnetism; and heat flow.

Lesson presented: 08⁄13⁄2008
Lesson produced: 08⁄20⁄2008

Duration: 1 hour 30 seconds


The Lunar Polar Environment

In the seventh presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Ben Bussey discusses the current understanding of the polar regions of the Moon. The presentation begins with a brief overview of the geometry of the Moon's axis of rotation with respect to the ecliptic plane, the resulting polar environment on the lunar surface, and the proposition that a polar region, particularly the south pole, would be a good location for a lunar outpost. Using imagery data from the Clementine and SMART-1 missions, the majority of the presentation focuses on how local topography at the poles result in two specific areas of interest: permanently shadowed craters possibly containing water ice, and topographically high areas that receive enhanced illumination from sunlight due to their elevated position with respect to the surrounding terrain. The presentation concludes with discussions about how radar instruments on the Chandrayaan-1 and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Lesson presented: 08⁄27⁄2008
Lesson produced: 09⁄09⁄2008

Duration: 58 minutes 53 seconds


A Brief, Selective History of the Apollo Program

In the eighth presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Dean Eppler provides a brief and selective history of the Apollo program. The presentation begins with President Kennedy's message to Congress on National Priorities in May of 1961, and his desire to commit the nation to the exploration of the Moon. The presentation then focuses on several key efforts that made the Apollo program successful, including national will, money, heavy lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, space suits, operational practices, and luck. An overview of each Apollo mission to the Moon then follows, including mission facts and statistics, results, and lessons learned. The presentation concludes with discussions on how the Constellation Program could use the lessons learned from Apollo to benefit the future explorations of the Moon.

Lesson presented: 09⁄10⁄2008
Lesson produced: 10⁄10⁄2008

Duration: 56 minutes 6 seconds


Future Scientific Exploration of the Moon

In the ninth presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Paul Spudis discusses current ideas for the future exploration of and operations on the Moon. The presentation begins with a brief overview of why the Moon is important and the value of exploration, particularly human spaceflight. Points of discussion included using the Moon as a school for exploration, a place to learn how to live and work off planet, and a stepping stone to the Solar System. The presentation then focuses on how geological exploration is conducted, including reconnaissance and field work, field and lab analyses, mapping, and planning surveys, traverses, and transects. The importance of surface mobility to accomplish these tasks, and the proper mix and use of humans and robots are highlighted. The presentation then focuses on the use of emplaced science stations and observatories for geophysics, astrophysics, heliophysics, and earth observations. The presentation concludes with discussions summarizing new exploration approaches and the challenges facing these approaches, such as lighting conditions and lunar dust.

Lesson presented: 09⁄24⁄08
Lessom produced: 10⁄20⁄08

Duration: 1 hour 2 minutes 58 seconds


Lunar Meteorites

In the tenth presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Kevin Righter discusses lunar meteorites and how they have contributed to lunar science. The presentation begins with a brief overview describing what meteorites are and what they look like. Discussion then continues with where meteorites come from, and how lunar meteorites can be recognized from other meteorites. The presentation then focuses on NASA's involvement with the U.S. Antarctic meteorite program, and the curation of collected meteorites, including the tools and materials used. Other locations where meteorites have been collected, such as Africa, are also mentioned. The presentation concludes with discussions about how the study of lunar meteorites has contributed to the advancement of lunar science, including extending the range of ages for the eruption of basaltic lavas, refining the composition of the feldspathic highlands crust, and providing more data to better understand the impact flux at Moon.

Lesson presented: 10⁄08⁄08
Lesson produced: 10⁄28⁄08

Duration: 51 minutes 8 seconds