Let’s Go To The Moon!
You’ve probably heard that NASA has a program to send astronauts to the moon again. It is, not too surprisingly, named Artemis. She is the Greek god Apollo’s twin sister and goddess of the moon. He (the brother) was the namesake of the original NASA manned moon program, which put a series of men on the moon using less powerful technology than we all carry around in our pockets these days.
It’s inspiring to hear that NASA is thinking of sending women there, in addition to men, this time. “Our astronaut office is very diverse and highly qualified. I think it is very beautiful that 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man — and the first woman — to the moon,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. That’s one more giant leap for humankind! And a big one for science, too.
Who Else Is Going?
But the United States is not the only country with a renewed interest in visiting our one natural satellite. Similar to our first program, this one is hot on the heels of other nations’ exploration of the same sphere. During the end of last century, Japan and the US both had spacecraft visiting the moon. Then things really got going in the new millennium.
In 2003 the European Space Agency’s SMART-1 investigated the Moon. Japan’s Selene explored it in 2007. In 2008, India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft helped determine that there is water on it. China landed a rover, the Yutu, there in 2013 . Then six years later, this past January, they became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon (yes, that’s the dark one, though it isn’t called that for lack of sunlight). Later last spring an Israeli spacecraft funded by private industry (not the government) orbited but crashed while trying to land. All the while the US continued to explore it with unmanned craft, too.
How Can We Learn More?
With all this renewed interest, there are bound to be some great learning opportunities for kids and parents! If your kids were lucky enough to attend our Space Squad camp this summer, they’ll have lots to tell you. If not, you can follow along on Artemis’ website, or any of the other countries’. Or, as always, you can read some books.
Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon (ages 2+) is one of the most classic children’s books of all time. Soothing, silly, sometimes a little bit strange, it appeals to almost all kids. While this doesn’t cover the moon in much detail, it’s definitely a story that will get them thinking about it, maybe even waving good night.
Moon! Earth’s Best Friend by Stacy McAnulty & is the third a series of info-packed, sweet books that focus on science. This book tells about the moon through a relatable story with wonderful illustrations and includes lots of info that every school-kid (and grown-up) should know about our Moon.
Stuart Gibbs’ Moon Base Alpha Series (ages 10+) features enthralling mysteries solved by a tween-ager from the future who lives in a base on the Moon. He uses scientific thinking and thoughtfulness to solve each crime and outsmarts the grown-ups over and over again.
Artemis may also ring a bell because it is the name of a moon civilization that exists in Andy Weir’s novel of the same name. If you have teenage children, a great book for them to read Weir’s The Martian (ages 14+), even if they’ve already seen the movie. The audiobook is also excellent for car rides (but beware of the language – read Commonsense Media’s review here).