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Week 1 guide

Week 1 guide
JESSICA BARNES: Hello and welcome to the course. I’m Jess, I’m a post graduate research student here at The Open University. I’ll be your guide throughout this eight-week learning journey. I’ll be catching up with you each week to let you know what’s coming up. We’ve got a great team who’ve put together the course. The Open University is renowned for its research in planetary and space sciences. In the labs here on campus, we have quite a collection of tiny samples of Moon rock, and we’ve built a virtual microscope so that you can study them for yourself. You’ll look at what moons are made of, how we think they’re formed and what goes on there.
You’ll find out what moons can teach us about the possibility for extra-terrestrial life, and you’ll learn about plans for future exploration. We have a group of experts who’ll respond to and moderate discussions. Please join in and share ideas - you can also post comments on anything in the course along the way. At the end of each week you’ll have the opportunity to gauge how much you’ve learned in a test. Your score from these weekly tests will be added to the results of the longer test you’ll take in the final week.
By the end of the course not only will you have picked up some fantastic knowledge, but you’ll also have developed skills that will be really useful for further studies in science. So here we go - Week 1. We begin with an introduction to the moons of the Solar System and getting some facts straight with a myth-busting animation. You’ll learn about orbits - mainly about how our own Moon’s orbit around the Earth is responsible for its phases, and how the interaction between a moon’s rotation and its orbit can lead to something called tidal heating. We’ll also explore some theories that try to explain the origin of the Moon.
By the end of Week 6 you’ll be in a better position to judge between them. Enjoy the journey. I’ll be back to catch up with you next week.

Jess Barnes is your guide through the course. She was a PhD student when these guide videos were filmed, then became a post-doctoral researcher at The Open University with a specialist interest in water inside the Earth’s Moon, and in June 2016 moved on to a position at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Jess pops up at the start of each week to tip you off about highlights and challenges, to remind you what you’ve learned and to help you make the most of these eight weeks of scientific discovery.

Here’s a run-down of features that have been developed to help you study this course. The course is designed to run on desktops, tablets and mobile devices; however, some of the material is quite detailed and using a larger screen will enhance your experience. Materials are best viewed running the most up-to-date software available for your device and using the most recent version of the web browser.

The downloads section

From time to time you’ll see downloadable PDFs at the bottom of a page. These are provided to help your learning. They include transcripts, data tables, accessible versions of interactive materials and the handy short glossary to the course at the bottom of this page.

In ‘See also’

Where appropriate we’ve provided ‘See also’ links to related materials on the web, offering you the chance to explore a topic in more depth. This includes links to breaking news stories.


You’ll notice that some images have a small expand icon in the bottom right-hand corner. When you select this icon you’ll be taken to a much larger version of the image, for a closer look.


Some of the most exciting features are the interactive exercises scattered throughout the course. Play the computer at Moon Trumps and examine real Moon rock samples with the virtual microscope.

Tests and quizzes

To test your knowledge we’ve provided end-of-week tests and an end-of-course test. If you’ve upgraded, you’ll see the test at the end of the Week. Your scores will be totalled up and you can monitor them on the progress page. Quizzes pop up here and there and look similar to tests; we’ll tell you your score each time, but quizzes are included purely to help you learn and these scores don’t count towards anything.

Comments and discussions

You’ll be able to make comments at any point in the course. You’ll also notice discussion points, where we specifically request you to join in dialogue with educators, mentors and fellow learners. Please join in!

The comments section can be a little overwhelming if there are lots of responses, so please don’t feel you have to read all of them! We recommend reading the first page of most recent comments and then the first page of ‘most liked’ comments – this will help you keep up-to-date with the newest and hottest comments in the course.

You can view the profile pages of your fellow learners, and ‘follow’ them to keep track of their comments. We recommend that you follow the Lead Educator, David Rothery, and our Mentors who this time include Victoria Austin, Geoff Burt, Julian Livsey, and Joe Stormer who are alumni from previous runs of this course and who have volunteered to come back to help. Please ‘like’ their most useful comments to help promote those to the top of the ‘most liked’ list, for the benefit of your fellow learners.

If you want to find out more about David Rothery, watch the meet the educator video.

Before you move on, why not introduce yourself now in the comments?

Using FutureLearn

For a quick start guide of how to learn with FutureLearn, take a look at the Using FutureLearn page.

Get extra benefits, upgrade your course

You can now get extra benefits by upgrading this course, including:

Unlimited access to the course: Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests: Ensure you’ve mastered the material with access to tests on the course.

A Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation: To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation when you become eligible.

Find out more

Moons Facebook group

Learners who have completed previous runs of this course, and want to maintain their connection with moons have set up a Moons Facebook group. Feel free to drop in, to swap experiences with, or seek advice from, your predecessors.

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