Blogs

ESA's Lunar Robotics Challenge: A tough task for the student teams

Surrey University SELENE rover. Credits: The University of Surrey Lunar Rover Team

[ESA Press Release - 27.10.2008]
The Teide volcanic peak on the island of Tenerife acted as a mock-up of the Moon landscape last week, with eight European student teams tuning, testing and driving their lunar rovers in preparation for a robotics competition that took place during the dark nights of last weekend.

Roving on the Moon is not easy. Lunar robotic explorers have to travel in a vacuum, over rough and steep terrain covered by crust and dust. The Sun heats the rovers up to 110°C and, when driving into a shadow, the temperature can drop to -100°C, or almost -200°C in the polar regions. The rovers have to be remote-controlled or able to steer themselves autonomously, making manoeuvres and scientific research very difficult.

NASA $350,000 Prize Goes to Armadillo Aerospace in Lunar Challenge

X Prize Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Logo. Credits: X Prize

[NASA Press Release - 27.10.2008]
Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Texas, earned $350,000 in NASA prize money during the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge in Las Cruces, N.M.

The challenge is a two-level, $2 million competition designed to accelerate commercial space technology and is sponsored by NASA's Centennial Challenges program. After Armadillo's $350,000 first place win for level one this year, $1.65 million remains as available prize money for future competitions.

Chandrayaan-1 enters Deep Space

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ISRO Press Release - 26.10.2008]
The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft has entered deep space after crossing the 150,000 km (one and a half lakh km) distance mark from the Earth. This happened after the successful completion of the spacecraft’s third orbit raising manoeuvre today (October 26, 2008) morning.

During this manoeuvre which was initiated at 07:08 IST, the spacecraft’s 440 Newton liquid engine was fired for about nine and a half minutes. With this, Chandrayaan-1 entered a much higher elliptical orbit around the Earth. The apogee (farthest point to Earth) of this orbit lies at 164,600 km while the perigee (nearest point to Earth) is at 348 km. In this orbit, Chandrayaan-1 takes about 73 hours to go round the Earth once.

Lunex and ILEWG organizes Young Lunar Explorers event at the LEAG-ICEUM-SRR conference

Lunex logo. Credits: Lunex

[Lunex Press Release - 23.10.2008]
The Lunar Explorers Society (Lunex) and ILEWG are organizing this year’s Young Lunar Explorers (YLE) event together with the department of Physics & Space Sciences at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), which will be held in conjunction with the LEAG-ICEUM-SRR conference at Cape Canaveral.

NASA Invites Reporters to Tests of Moon Tools in Hawaii

Artist impression of a regolith exavator. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 22.10.2008]
Media are invited to observe tests of NASA equipment and rover concepts that will demonstrate how astronauts might prospect for lunar resources and make their own oxygen for survival on the moon. The tests will take place Thursday, Nov. 13, starting at 9 a.m. HST outside Hilo, Hawaii.

NASA's In Situ Resource Utilization project focuses on developing methods for astronauts to take advantage of lunar resources at landing sites on the moon. During two weeks of field tests, NASA will demonstrate prototype systems that could enable a sustainable and affordable lunar outpost by minimizing the amount of water and oxygen that must be supplied from Earth. The Pacific International Center for Exploration Systems, or PISCES, headquartered at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, will host the tests.

NASA And The Challenger Center Announce Naming Contest

A prototype of an inflatable lunar habitat. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 22.10.2008]
NASA and the Challenger Center for Space Education have partnered to engage students in ongoing activities for one of NASA's concepts for astronaut housing on the moon through a contest to name a habitat in Antarctica. NASA currently is conducting a test of a lightweight, durable, inflatable habitat on the cold, harsh landscape of the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station.

Chandrayaan-1 successfully launched – next stop: the Moon

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ESA Press Release - 22.10.2008]
Chandrayaan-1, India’s first mission to the Moon, was successfully launched earlier this morning from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) in Sriharikota, India.

The PSLV-C11 rocket, an upgraded version of the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO’s) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, lifted off at 02:52 Central European Summer Time (CEST) and, about 20 minutes later, injected the spacecraft into a highly elongated orbit around the Earth.

PSLV-C11 Successfully Launches Chandrayaan-1

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[ISRO Press Release - 22.10.2008]
In its fourteenth flight conducted from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota this morning (October 22, 2008), the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C11, successfully launched the 1380 kg Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft into a transfer orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 255 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 22,860 km, inclined at an angle of 17.9 deg to the equator.

NASA Returns to the Moon with Instruments on Indian Spacecraft

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[NASA Press Release - 20.10.2008]
Two NASA instruments to map the lunar surface will launch on India's maiden moon voyage. The Moon Mineralogy Mapper will assess mineral resources, and the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar, or Mini-SAR, will map the polar regions and look for ice deposits.
The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, is scheduled to launch its robotic Chandrayaan-1 on Oct. 22 from Sriharikota, India.

Lunar Lander Teams To Compete For $2 Million NASA Prize

X Prize Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Logo. Credits: X Prize

[NASA Press Release - 17.10.2008]
Nine teams with rocket-powered vehicles will compete for $2 million in NASA prize money during the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, Oct. 24-25, at Las Cruces International Airport in New Mexico.

Teams must fly their vehicle, simulating a takeoff and landing on the moon, and repeat the task in a limited period of time. The competition provides a demanding test of navigation and control for the vehicles, as well as a demonstration of reusable rocket engine technology.

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