Trond Krovel's blog

Lunar Lander Floats on Electric-blue Jets

Prototype lunar lander. Credits: NASA

[NASA Science Article - 15.10.2009]
How do you fly on a world with no atmosphere? Wings won't work and neither do propellers. And don't even try that parachute!

NASA engineer Brian Mulac has the answer. "All it takes is practice, practice, practice," he says. "And of course, thrusters."

The space agency is perfecting the art using a prototype lunar lander at the Marshall Space Flight Center:

NASA Hosts National Lunar Robotics Moon Excavation Competition

Artist impression of a regolith exavator. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 15.10.2009]
Reporters are invited to attend the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Oct. 17-18 at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. The $750,000 prize challenge is a nationwide competition that focuses on developing improved handling technologies for moon dirt, known as lunar regolith.

Part of NASA's Centennial Challenges Program, the competition will see

Hydrogen offers a new way to study the Moon

Chandrayaan-1 SARA measurements of hydrogen flux. Credits: Elsevier and ESA/ISRO

[ESA Press Release - 16.10.2009]
The Moon is a surprisingly strong source of hydrogen atoms. That is the surprise discovery from ESA-ISRO instrument SARA onboard the Indian Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter. It gives scientists an interesting new way to study both the Moon and any other airless bodies in the Solar System.

According to conventional wisdom, the lunar surface is a loose collection of irregular dust grains. Any particle that hits it should bounce between the grains and be absorbed. But the new results clearly show that one out of every five protons incoming from the solar wind rebounds from the Moon’s surface. In the process, the proton joins with an electron to become an atom of hydrogen.

NASA Spacecraft Impacts Lunar Crater in Search for Water Ice

LCROSS before impact. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 09.10.2009]
NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, created twin impacts on the moon's surface early Friday in a search for water ice. Scientists will analyze data from the spacecraft's instruments to assess whether water ice is present.

The satellite traveled 5.6 million miles during an historic 113-day mission that ended in the Cabeus crater, a permanently shadowed region near the moon's south pole. The spacecraft was launched June 18 as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Microwaving Water from Moondust

Apollo 12 astronaut Allan Bean on the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Science Article - 08.10.2009]
NASA is figuring out how to make water from moondust. Sounds like magic?

"No magic--" says Ed Ethridge of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center "-- just microwaves. We're showing how microwaves can extract water from moondust by heating it from the inside out."

The recent discovery of water on the Moon's surface has inspired researchers like Ethridge to rev up the development of technologies to capture it. Some of them believe the small amounts of frozen water mixed in lunar topsoil are just the tip of the iceberg.1 If so, Ethridge has figured out a way to retrieve it.

NASA Invites Reporters to Events for LCROSS Lunar Impact

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 06.10.2009]
NASA is inviting journalists to events this week in Washington and California to observe the twin impacts of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and its rocket's upper stage as they impact the moon. The goal of the mission is to search for water ice on the moon.

The satellite and upper stage both are scheduled to hit a permanently shadowed crater of the moon, four minutes apart, at approximately 4:30 a.m. and 4:34 a.m. PDT on Friday, Oct. 9. NASA Television coverage begins at 3:15 a.m. PDT.

A new view of the Apollo 11 landing site from SMART-1

Apollo 11 landing site from Smart-1. Credits: ESA

[ESA Press Release - 20.07.2009]
History was made at 03:56 CEST on 21 July 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped off the lunar module and placed his left foot on the surface of the Moon. During this International Year of Astronomy the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of this inspirational event. The landing site of the Apollo 11 mission is just one of the many images of our closest neighbour taken by the SMART-1 spacecraft as it orbited the Moon between 2004 and 2006.

Experience a virtual journey to the lunar Peak of Eternal Light

SMART-1 mosaic of the lunar south pole. Credits: ESA/Space-X

[ESA Press Release - 27.07.2009]
The first public showing of ‘The Peak of Eternal Light’, a new movie created using images taken by ESA’s SMART-1 lunar orbiter, took place one a week ago at the Ars Electronica Center (AEC), Linz, Austria. This movie was shown as part of a special event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, during this International Year of Astronomy.

NASA Honors JFK with Moon Rock to be Displayed at Rice University

NASA logo. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 05.10.2009]
On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, NASA honored President John F. Kennedy with an Ambassador of Exploration Award for his vision and leadership in landing a man on the moon. The Kennedy family has selected Rice University to house and publicly display the award, a lunar sample, at Fondren Library.
Kennedy called for a national initiative to go to the moon during a speech given at Rice University on Sept. 12, 1962.

LCROSS Viewer's Guide

LCROSS impact crater Cabeus. Credits: NASA

[NASA Science Article - 05.10.2009]
Just imagine. A spaceship plunges out of the night sky, hits the ground and explodes. A plume of debris billows back into the heavens, leading your eye to a second ship in hot pursuit. Four minutes later, that one hits the ground, too. It's raining spaceships!

Put on your hard hat and get ready for action, because on Friday, Oct. 9th, what you just imagined is really going to happen--and you can have a front row seat.

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