Katherine Joy: The Science of the Moon: from exploration to complex rocky world

Katherine Joy obtained her PhD in studies of lunar evolution and was involved in the European Space Agency’s SMART-1 mission to the Moon. She held postdoctoral research positions at Birkbeck College where she studied data from the Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission, and at the Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA Johnson Space Centre is the US where she worked with lunar samples. In 2012 Katherine returned to the UK to work at the University of Manchester where she studies rock and soil returned by the Apollo missions in order to study the Moon’s impact and volcanic record. She recently co-led the first UK team to recover meteorite samples from Antarctica, working with the British Antarctic Survey to recover rocks from space.

Talk: The Science of the Moon: from exploration to complex rocky world

The Moon has been the subject of great fascination for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s and 1960’s when we sent orbiting and landing spacecraft to explore its surface that we made giant leaps forward to understand its origin and evolution. These early exploration endeavours laid the way for the series of six crewed Apollo and three robotic Luna missions, which returned ~382 kg of rocks and soils back to Earth. Our knowledge is still growing with state of the art cameras capturing photographs of features down to only a few metres in size, and geophysics missions measuring the state of the lunar crust in never before seen detail. This renewed interest in the Moon is on-going with new space missions orbiting and landing on its surface, and the race is on between nations and commercial enterprises to continue the exploration of our nearest neighbour. This talk will discuss how our knowledge from space missions and laboratory work back here on Earth has been integrated to develop an understanding of the Moon as a complex geological body.

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