Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Buzz Aldrin on moon
Photo of Buzz Aldrin courtesy NASA.

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 touched down on the moon and Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the lunar surface. The moon rocks brought back to Earth launched a new era of research about the moon’s origin. Fifty years later, researchers at the UC Davis College of Letters and Science continue to discover new aspects of the moon’s formation that further our understanding of the solar system. Here are some highlights of their research.

Professor Discusses Significance of Moon Landing

Professor Sarah Stewart, an expert on planet formation, discussed the significance of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on UC Davis Live.

Moon craterModeling Early Meteorite Impacts on the Moon

After the Earth and moon formed, there was another phase of growth as meteorites crashed into both bodies. Understanding this era is crucial to figuring out exactly what happened as the Earth and moon grew into the bodies we know today.


SynestiaHow the Moon Formed Inside a Vaporized Earth Synestia

new explanation for the moon’s origin has it forming inside the Earth when our planet was a seething, spinning cloud of vaporized rock, called a synestia.


Tracy CaldwellAlumna Tracy Caldwell Visited Space Station

College of Letters and Science alumna and astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson (Ph.D., chemistry, ’97) spent six months on the International Space Station and has completed three space walks. 


Albert HarrisonResearchers Have Forged a Path from UC Davis to Space

NASA has invested millions of dollars in UC Davis research, working with UC Davis biologists, engineers, physiologists, psychologists and other researchers to study life in space— whether that be studying space itself, the effects of gravity, getting there, staying there or surviving there.


Cosmos imageMantle Neon Illuminates Earth’s Formation

Drawing on data from the depths of the Earth to deep space, Professor Sujoy Mukhopadhyay and postdoctoral researcher Curtis Williams used neon isotopes to show how the planet formed


Russian MeteorUC Davis Researchers Analyze Chelyabinsk Meteorite

The meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 was “a wake-up call,” according to Professor Qing-zhu Yin,who participated in analyzing the event.


Ancient meteoriteNew Type of Meteorite Linked to Ancient Asteroid Collision

An ancient space rockdiscovered in a Swedish quarry is a type of meteorite never before found on Earth.



Dawn SumnerUC Davis scientist prepares for Mars rover landing

A co-investigator for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory team, Professor Dawn Sumner helped coordinate the first scientific interpretations of what was seen when the Mars Curiosity rover landed


Becky Oskin, UC Davis College of Letters and Science