Gravity on the Moon

A NASA astronaut on the lunar surface (credit: NASA)

Are you feeling heavy? Maybe it’s time to go to the Moon, where you’ll experience much less gravity. Since the Moon is smaller, and has much less mass, it pulls with less gravity. In fact, if you could stand on the surface of the Moon, you would experience only 17% the force of gravity that you would experience on Earth. Gravity on the Moon is much less.

Just to give you an example, let’s say that you weighed 100 kg on Earth. If you stood on the Moon, and then onto your bathroom scale your weight would only be 17 kg. With gravity on the Moon so low, you would be able to jump much higher. If you can jump 30 cm on Earth, you would be able to jump almost 2 meters straight up into the air. And you would be able to fall much further on the Moon. If you jumped off the roof of your house, it would only feel like you jumped off a table. You would be able to throw a ball 6 times further, hit a golf ball 6 times further… you get the idea.

When the Apollo astronauts first walked on the surface of the Moon, they needed to learn how to walk differently in the Moon’s gravity. That’s why the astronauts do a funny hopping run as they move across the surface of the Moon. If they tried to take normal steps, they would fly up into the air to far and fall over – that did happen a few times.

One last, fascinating idea. The pull of gravity on the Moon is so low that you could actually fly with wings attached to your arms (as long as you were inside an enclosed dome filled with air at the Earth’s atmospheric pressure. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to fly around like a bird?

Do you wonder about the gravity of Mars, or the gravity of Jupiter?

There are some cool calculators out there that let you take your weight and see what you would experience on other planets. Check this one out.

You can listen to a very interesting podcast about the formation of the Moon from Astronomy Cast, Episode 17: Where Did the Moon Come From?