Previous: 3 of the Most Peculiar Supernovas
Next: Are There Planets More Habitable Than Earth?



View count:269
Last sync:2019-01-04 20:10
2019 will be a big year for the moon! Not only is it the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, but our closest neighbor is receiving a bunch of new visitors this year.

SciShow has a spinoff podcast! It's called SciShow Tangents. Check it out at
Support SciShow by becoming a patron on Patreon:
Dooblydoo thanks go to the following Patreon supporters: Alex Schuerch, Alex Hackman, Andrew Finley Brenan, Sam Lutfi, D.A. Noe, الخليفي سلطان, Piya Shedden, KatieMarie Magnone, Scott Satovsky Jr, Charles Southerland, Patrick D. Ashmore, charles george, Kevin Bealer, Chris Peters
Like SciShow? Want to help support us, and also get things to put on your walls, cover your torso and hold your liquids? Check out our awesome products over at DFTBA Records:
Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?
[ ♪ Intro ].

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2019! This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first humans to walk on the Moon.

And although we’re not quite ready to send people back, 2019 is still shaping up to be a big year for lunar exploration. So, for our annual Future of Space News episode, let’s peek ahead at three Moon stories we will hopefully be talking a whole lot about later this year. It will all start with Chandrayaan-2, which could launch from India as early as this month.

As the name suggests, this is actually the second mission to the Moon planned by the. Indian Space Research Organisation, or ISRO. The first, roughly year-long mission ended in 2009, but it made headlines last year when scientists discovered that one of its instruments had found ice hiding in some of the Moon’s permanently shadowed craters.

If humans ever set up a lunar colony, that ice could become a valuable resource, and the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter plans to study it even further. But this mission is about more than just ice:. It represents a huge step forward for the Indian space program.

Because while their first visit consisted of just an orbiter and an impact probe, this one has an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. The lander and rover will touch down near the Moon’s south pole, a part of the surface that’s never been explored like this. Among other things, their suite of instruments will study the environment created by the Sun’s solar wind on the lunar soil.

The solar wind is a stream of electrically-charged particles that pours constantly from the Sun. When it strikes the Moon’s surface, it can knock some atoms free and bury others underground. Because our planet’s magnetic field deflects the solar wind, this environment is unlike anything on Earth.

So there’s a lot we could learn from it. Spectrometers will also map the composition of the lunar surface, and a seismometer will search for moonquakes, which as you might guess, are similar to earthquakes, but on the Moon. That research will extend work originally carried out by the Apollo astronauts.

This mission has been a long time coming for India. It was originally slated to launch in 2013 with a rover contributed by Russia, but Russia ultimately pulled out. That forced delays, since ISRO then had to design and build their own rover.

But after successful tests last October, everything seems “go” for a launch sometime in the first three months of 2019. Chandrayaan-2 isn’t the only long-awaited mission that will finally, hopefully, launch this year. In early 2019, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off and send a lander to the Moon for the Israeli organization SpaceIL.

If all goes according to plan, this will be the first-ever example of a privately-developed rocket delivering a privately-developed spacecraft to another world. If this all sounds a bit familiar, it’s because we included SpaceIL in last year’s edition of Future Space News, too. Back then, they were competing to be the first private organization to land on the Moon as part of the Google Lunar X-Prize competition, which ended last March without a winner.

Now, after a few extra months of work, SpaceIL plans to send their lander to the Moon anyway. Their spacecraft is just two meters in diameter and weighs less than 200 kilograms empty, but it will carry more than 400 kilograms of fuel onboard. Most of that fuel will be used for a soft landing on the Moon, but it’s also carrying enough to perform a hop across the surface.

Although “hop” is maybe an understatement, considering it will land more than half a kilometer away. An HD video camera is expected to send back stunning views of the Moon’s surface, and the lander will also be carrying a magnetometer to explore the remnants of the lunar magnetic field. Although the Moon doesn’t have a global magnetic field today, rocks across its surface, some of which are magnetic, suggest that conditions might have been different billions of years ago.

By using the magnetometer during the lander’s descent and hop, the team hopes to use those rocks to map the local magnetic environment. And while that might not sound like much compared to ISRO’s mission, any time there’s a Moon landing is always a really exciting time. The biggest lunar exploration story this year, though, will probably come from China.

Back in 2013, they became the first nation to land on the Moon since the end of the Cold War. And they also just landed the first-ever spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, the Chang’e-4 rover. Which was huge and amazing!

But this year will also see the Chang’e-5 mission, which will attempt the first lunar sample return since a Soviet mission in 1976. It will dig as far down as two meters and return up to two kilograms of Moon rocks to Earth. Most importantly, it’s targeted at an area thought to be just 1.3 billion years old, billions of years younger than the areas sampled by the Apollo astronauts.

As you might guess, returning stuff from the moon is not an easy mission, but studying those samples will help scientists understand how the Moon has evolved since its formation. So, 2019 is shaping up to be a big year of firsts in exploration. With a little luck, we’ll have new nations studying our closest neighbor in all kinds of new ways.

Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow Space! If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to keep up with science news, you are in luck, my friend! We do a space news episode right here every Friday!

If you want to be the first to see them, you can go to to subscribe. [ ♪ Outro ].