• Released Thursday, June 10, 2010

NASA's home for spherical films on Magic Planet. Download the Magic Planet-ready movie file here.

The silvery disc of inspiration for countless philosophers and lovers also happens to be one of the great destinations in the annals of exploration. Earth's moon shines like a beacon, beckoning scientists and the simply curious. But it's been a long time since anyone has visited, and even the most basic signals from unmanned probes have been few and far between.

Unfold your maps.

With the advent of the NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), humanity makes a return to the moon like a herald announcing a new age. To commemorate the mission and champion the value of future planned lunar expeditions, the Space Agency created a new short film called RETURN TO THE MOON. Designed expressly for the Science On a Sphere platform, a striking spherical projection system now playing in theaters around the world, RETURN TO THE MOON shows off our silver sibling like a jewel of the night.

Starting with a brief historical look back at the legacy of human achievement in lunar exploration, the movie presses audiences to take stock in their own relationship to the moon. Then it takes them on a journey. Travelling along with the LRO spacecraft, viewers will discover some of the essential scientific subjects that scientists plan to study. They'll follow LRO as it makes orbits around the moon, gathering data about the surface and what may lie beneath. And then, in a dramatic demonstration of a daring part of the mission, moviegoers will witness the inventive and powerful moment when NASA engineers intentionally crash a research probe into the surface of the moon to dig beneath the top layer. The space agency calls that impact probe LCROSS, and as both a research tool and a cinematic experience, it promises to deliver something exciting.

RETURN TO THE MOON was produced by the media team at the Goddard Space Flight Center. One of NASA's premiere media teams, this group not only delivers state of the art data visualizations of ongoing research, but also helped write the book on spherical filmmaking. At its time of release, RETURN TO THE MOON was the third fully produced spherical movie from Goddard, and an exciting departure in terms of how these kind of products fuse dramatic presentational style with robust science.

RETURN TO THE MOON has been prepared exclusively for playback on spherical projections systems. It will not appear in its proper format on a traditional computer or television screen. If you are interested in dowloading the complete final movie file for spherical playback, please visit :


Official Movie Credits

Written, Produced, and Directed by Michael Starobin

Edited by Victoria Weeks

Music and Narration Michael Starobin

Motion Graphics Victoria Weeks

Animation Ivy Flores Chris Meaney

Recording Engineer Mike Velle

IT Management Pankaj Jaiswal Stuart Snodgrass

Science On a Sphere Project Liaison Maurice Henderson

The Scientific Visualization Studio/NASA GSFC Director of Data Visualization Horace Mitchell Visualization Team Greg Shirah Alex Kekesi Ernest Wright Software Development Greg Shirah Eric Sokolowsky

Executive Producer for Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc. Patrick Kennedy

Executive Producer for NASA Television, GSFC Wade Sisler

Science On a Sphere was Developed by NOAA

RETURN TO THE MOON Special Thanks to NASA's Lunar Precursor Robotic Program Copyright © 2009 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center All Rights Reserved

Release date

This page was originally published on Thursday, June 10, 2010.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:54 PM EDT.


This visualization can be found in the following series: