Lunar exploration: Opening a window into the history and evolution of the inner Solar System

Ian A. Crawford, Katherine H. Joy

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    Abstract

    The lunar geological record contains a rich archive of the history of the inner Solar System, including information relevant to understanding the origin and evolution of the Earth-Moon system, the geological evolution of rocky planets, and our local cosmic environment. This paper provides a brief review of lunar exploration to-date and describes how future exploration initiatives will further advance our understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon, the Earth-Moon system and of the Solar System more generally. It is concluded that further advances will require the placing of new scientific instruments on, and the return of additional samples from, the lunar surface. Some of these scientific objectives can be achieved robotically, for example by in situ geochemical and geophysical measurements and through carefully targeted sample return missions. However, in the longer term, we argue that lunar science would greatly benefit from renewed human operations on the surface of the Moon, such as would be facilitated by implementing the recently proposed Global Exploration Roadmap. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20130315
    JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
    Volume372
    Issue number2024
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2014

    Keywords

    • Earth-Moon system
    • Lunar exploration
    • Lunar science
    • Origin of the Moon

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