Raise your hand if you find the mistake in this statement from the front page of the ‘New York Times’ website today:
“Some archaeologists and historians worry that the next generation to visit the moon might carelessly obliterate the site where man first stepped onto the planet in 1969.”
Yes, that summer school education has truly paid off. You caught the error easily – unlike the Times copy editor who let it pass and will probably have a note from his copy desk chief awaiting his arrival at work tomorrow.
The moon is not a planet, the note will say.
But for arguments sake, NASA says some moons take on characteristics of planets. “Like the Earth, our moon has a crust, a mantle and a core,” notes NASA lunar scientist Barbara Cohen.
Characteristics alone don’t let you make the cut, however. Remember, Pluto had a lot of planet stuff going for it. Then it got the boot from the planet list after scientists determined it actually served as a sort of moon for Neptune.
Meanwhile, our moon will be hanging in there as beautiful as ever – provided we don’t start dumping our beer cans, plastic cups and old washing machines on it.
“For me, the best thing about the moon is that it may not be defined as a planet, but it definitely acts like one,” says Lunar scientist Cohen.
For the Times story on moon preservation, go to:
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