Astronaut Training Kennedy Space Center nasa astronaut training experience at kennedy space center Space Training Center Astronaut Kennedy

Astronaut Training Kennedy Space Center nasa astronaut training experience at kennedy space center Space Training Center Astronaut Kennedy

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Astronaut Training Kennedy Space Center

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The largest, shining object in Earth's starlit night sky, our Moon has long been the source of mystery, myth, and poetry--a captivating inspiration for those who stare at the sky in wonder. But Earth's Moon is a very real object--the only body beyond our own planet that we have actually set foot upon, leaving our lingering footprints in its distant, alien dust. Earth's Moon has been with us almost from the very beginning, and even though it is our planet's closest companion in space, it has nonetheless managed to keep some of its ancient secrets very well. In September 2015, astronomers released a new study that shed light on Earth's bewitching companion's ancient and secretive past. Although our Moon now appears to be unchanging, as if it has always been exactly the same as it appears now--going through its beautiful and, yet, familiar phases, and controlling our ocean tides--in the distant past, things were actually very different.



There are over 100 moons dancing around the eight major planets of our Sun's family. Most of them are small, frozen, icy objects, harboring only a relatively scanty amount of rocky material, that circle around the quartet of giant gaseous planets that dwell in the outer, frigid realm of our Solar System--far from the comforting warmth and brilliance of our Star. The quartet of majestic, giant denizens of our outer Solar System--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are enveloped with gaseous atmospheres, and orbited by a multitude of dancing, sparkling moons and moonlets. In marked contrast, the inner region of our Solar System--where our Earth dwells--is almost bereft of moons. Of the quartet of relatively petite, rocky "terrestrial" planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--only Earth is circled by a large Moon. Mercury and Venus are moonless, and Mars is orbited by a duo of tiny, lumpy, potato-shaped moons, Phobos and Deimos. Phobos and Deimos are probably escaped asteroids, born in the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, that were captured by the gravitational embrace of the Red Planet long ago.



Brilliant, icy short-period comets invade the bright and toasty inner Solar System, far from their frozen domain in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is the reservoir of comet nuclei that is located closest to Earth. Short-period comets rampage into the inner Solar System more frequently than every 200 years. The more distant long-period comets streak into the inner Solar System's melting warmth and comforting light every 200 years--at least--from the Oort Cloud. Because Earth dwells closer to the Kuiper Belt than to the Oort Cloud, short-period comets are much more frequent invaders, and have played a more important part in Earth's history than their long-period kin. Nevertheless, Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) are sufficiently small, distant, and dim to have escaped the reach of our scientific technology until 1992.