Friday, March 7, 2008

Home on the Moon: Book by Heather Dyson

Ken Murphy, over at Out of the Cradle, has a book by Heather Dyson's he believes deserves a second glance

We’ve got a pair of reviews this time around, two books about living and working on the Moon.

Home on the Moon by Marianne Dyson was published in 2003 by National Geographic and weighs in at 64 pages including the index. No errors noted.

[Full Disclosure: Ms. Dyson is a member of NSS, and we worked together on the Author’s Area for the 2007 ISDC. (sort of - I got the ball rolling on the idea of having conference participants and others autograph their space books for the public and did some basic groundwork locally, and then she picked up the ball and ran with it for a touchdown - we didn’t lose money on the idea, it actually contributed a small amount to the overall conference, and there were lots of happy people on both sides of the signing table, the real measure of success) She is also one of the managers of the NSS Reading Space website, to which I’ve given permission to source reviews from Out of the Cradle]

Ms. Dyson opens her book with a description of the event long ago that got her started in the space field - the launch of Apollo 8 and its magnificent contribution to human society. She then goes on to touch on the many things we’ve learned about how to go back to the Moon to stay, and issues a challenge:

“The [L]unar frontier calls to a new generation of explorers. Maybe you will be one of them.”

Chapter 2 discusses how we’ve come to believe the Moon was formed - the Big Whack hypothesis (I think it may have moved up to Theory by now). Some 4.5 to 5 billion years ago, a large planetoid now called Thea or Theia, maybe around the size of Mars, smacked our planet off-center in a devastating collision that irreparably changed both and birthed what we now know of as the Earth and Moon. The claim is made that the belt that coalesced into the Moon formed about 14,000 miles out, which I’m wondering might be within the Roche limit (where the gravity stress on the near and far side of a large object is sufficiently different to start tearing it apart). A summary of developments to date help give basic background on the different kinds of rock. It is noted that the Lunar lavas that filled the deepest craters to create the maria were of the consistency of motor oil, and some spewed out in ‘fire fountains’ to create the colored glasses found by the astronauts. Our first fun activity is a crater color experiment which is pretty standard in the Moon curricula. Pan or bowl of flour to represent the underlying anorthosite crust, a layer of pepper to represent the regolith and the long-term affects of the UV in sunlight, which darkens the surface over time. Then you drop a marble in from varying heights to see what happens.

Read the Reviews HERE.

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