Moons of our Solar System

This free course, Moons of our Solar System, will allow you to explore the rich diversity of moons in our Solar System. You’ll explore the fundamental processes that have shaped them, and the relationship between our Moon and the Earth.
What’s it about?

There are lots of moons in our Solar System. The Earth is the only planet with just a single moon. Some moons are bigger than ours; many are much smaller. There are even tiny moons orbiting some of the asteroids. Some have ongoing volcanic eruptions; others are dead, heavily cratered lumps. One has rivers and lakes of liquid methane. Our own Moon has resources that could help open the Solar System for future exploration. A small handful of moons have conditions below their surfaces where primitive life might exist.

What will I learn?

After studying this course you will be able to:

  • describe the nature, diversity and origins of moons in our Solar System
  • understand the nature of moons' orbits and the effects of tides
  • describe the compositions and nature of the surfaces and interiors of moons
  • understand how impact craters are formed, recognising their significance for dating surfaces
  • describe the nature and history of volcanic activity on several moons
  • recognise the history and major discoveries of manned and unmanned lunar exploration
  • recognise aspects of lunar samples seen under the microscope
  • describe settings in which 'water' has been found on the Moon
  • suggest how resources from the Moon may help future space exploration.
What’s involved?

Although the course has been designed to be studied over eight weeks, the course is open all year for you to join at anytime and study at your own pace.

Explore the rich diversity of moons, the fundamental processes that have shaped them, and the relationship between the Moon and the Earth.  Experts from The Open University and elsewhere through the use of video guide you through the course. The course is rich in high-quality text, images, video, audio and interactive elements. 


An interest in learning about the moons of our Solar System and the methods used to understand them. Prior knowledge of astronomy is not expected.

Current Start learning

Course Code: Moons_Boc_1
Available: 14 October 2018
Duration: 8 Weeks,3 hours per week
Type: Micro course
Assessments: 2 hours

Credentialing: Non-formal recognition
Course Credit: Non accredited
Additional Courses:
Credential: Statement of Participation
Level: 1st year Bachelor’s

This Open University science open course, presented on OpenLearn, is produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education.

Course image @The Open University 2015

The Open University is proud to make this course freely available under a Creative Commons licence. Unless otherwise stated or third-party materials which are used with permission, so are not subject to the Creative Commons licence, or ours to give away. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of the course.