- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
As with all science, our continually developing concepts of lunar evolution are firmly tied to both new types of observations and the integration of these observations to the known pool of data. This process invigorates the intellectual foundation on which old models are tested and new concepts are built. Just as the application of new observational tools to lunar science in 1610 (Galileo’s telescope) and 1840 (photography) yielded breakthroughs concerning the true nature of the lunar surface, the computational and technological advances highlighted by the Apollo and post-Apollo missions and associated scientific investigations provided a new view of the thermal and magmatic evolution of the Moon.
1.1. Pre-Apollo view of the thermal and magmatic evolution of the Moon
Many of the early views of the Moon manifested in mythology and art throughout the world were primarily tied to lunar and terrestrial cycles and the relationships between the Sun and the Moon. Prophetically, myths involving the lunar deities Mwuetsi from Zimbabwe and Coyolxauhqui from Mexico told of rather violent or catastrophic events in which the Moon was expunged from the Earth. Numerous ancient scientific observations were made about the nature of the Moon ranging from those uncovered in early Neolithic sites that correctly identified mare Crisium and mare Humorum to the insights made by Greek philosophers such as Anaxagoras (ca. 500-428 B.C.) and Democritus (ca. 460-370 B.C.), who attached terrestrial analogues to its character (stone, mountains).
With the advent of the telescope (1610) and photography (1840) as scientific tools for lunar exploration, semiquantitative data could be collected that would provide an intellectual foundation for scientific interpretation. Initially, modern terrestrial geological analogs were extended to the Moon (lunar highlands, volcanic craters, seas). Combined with the rigors of computational modeling, these observational data were extended to predict the original thermal state of the Moon and its thermal and magmatic history. Its proximity to the Earth …