Transcripts of Supermoon Aug 2014 Michelle Thaller canned interview

>>Interviewer: The full moon on August 10th isn't like other full moons we've seen this year. This is a "supermoon," and here to tell us more about it is NASA scientist Dr. Michelle Thaller. Thank you for joining us, Michelle. >>MIchelle: Hey, great to be here, thank you. >>Interviewer: So tell us, what is a supermoon, and what makes this full moon special? >>Michelle: Well a supermoon simply defined is the largest and brightest moon of the year, and that's what's going to be happening this Sunday. Now, the reason this happens at all is as the Moon orbits around the Earth, it doesn't orbit in a perfect circle. Sometimes it's a little farther away, that we call the "apogee." And other times, it swings in a little bit closer to Earth, and we call that the "perigee." And if you get a full moon near perigee, that means the Moon looks bigger and brighter. And here's a comparison of a small full moon for the year, and the one we're having on Sunday is about 14% bigger, which amazingly makes it 30% brighter, a third brighter, so you will see a lovely, large, bright full moon rising on Sunday. >>Interviewer: When is the best time to view the supermoon, is it going to look different from other full moons? >>Michelle: Well because it's closer, in fact it's 31,000 miles closer, it is going to appear larger and brighter. But the nice thing about the Moon is you can see it anywhere that you happen to have a clear sky during the night. So I usually like to go out around sunset, because that's when the full moon rises. And look at the eastern horizon, and watch the Moon come up and whenever you see the Moon close to the horizon, it looks even larger than normal, it looks even more spectacular. But the Moon will be up all weekend long, you know whether it's Friday evening, all the way through to Sunday, go outside and look at the Moon, and appreciate the brightest, most spectacular full moon of the year. >>Interviewer: Well NASA has had a spacecraft orbiting the Moon for five years, called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. What are some of the cool things we've learned from this mission? >>Michelle: Well that's right, when you look at the Moon this weekend, picture this spacecraft actually orbiting around it right now. And that's LRO, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. And LRO is actually making the Moon the most well-studied object in the solar system. The temperature for example, we're finding the coldest temperature in the solar system. We see craters. Here's a beautiful mountain that's actually inside a large crater called "Tycho," and it sorta looks like there's a little rock on top of that mountain. But that little boulder that you see is lit up by the Sun. The scale is very misleading. That is actually the size of a large football stadium. So there are dramatic terrains on the Moon that we still have to study. And of course the wonderful thing about the Moon is it's a pristine sample of the formation of the solar system. Billions of years ago, many smaller objects collided together to form the Moon. And we see a record of the cratering that's been left unchanged for billions of years. Here you see an animation, it first started with some very large bodies coming together, very big craters are formed. Over time, it was smaller objects that left records on the Moon. We still see the occasional crater forming, even today, and while most of those craters have been erased on the surface of the Earth, because of our atmosphere, oceans, weather, all those things, on the Moon we actually have a sample of what formed the solar system billions of years ago. >>Interviewer: It's been 45 years since NASA put a man on the Moon. What have we learned about our closest neighbor since then? >>Michelle: It's wonderful that we can actually use LRO to even look back at the Moon and think about the history that NASA has there. It's been 45 years since people landed on the Moon. And I love to think that, you know, hey we used to have a car that was actually driving around on the surface of another world. And you can still see the landing sites using LRO. Those little dark tracks that you see through the lunar soil, those are the footprints of the astronauts. We can see the actual descent stages, we can actually see the lunar modules down there. And as a matter of fact, we know that the American flags are still flying on the Moon 45 years later. >>Interviewer: Sounds great, where can we go to learn more? >>Michelle: Well to learn more about all of our studies using LRO, the history of the Moon, go to And you can see some of the beautiful images that we're returning, and I really encourage you to go there and learn everything you can about the Moon. >>Interviewer: Thank you very much for joining us Michelle. >>Michelle: Great to be here. Thank you.