NASA Sets Sights on Lunar Dust Exploration Mission

Concept drawing of LADEE. Credits NASA

[NASA Press Release - 09.04.2008]
NASA is preparing to send a small spacecraft to the moon in 2011 to assess the lunar atmosphere and the nature of dust lofted above the surface.

Called the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), the mission will launch before the agency's moon exploration activities accelerate during the next decade. LADEE will gather detailed information about conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust. A thorough understanding of these influences will help researchers understand how future exploration may shape the lunar environment and how the environment may affect future explorers.

Crafty Tricks for Finding Moon Water

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 27.03.2008]
Bright gray, crater-pocked mountains taller than Mount McKinley. Abyssal craters that could swallow several Grand Canyons whole.

Recent radar maps of the Moon's southern pole revealed a dramatic, jagged landscape that astronauts could someday call home. But unfortunately, these radar images didn't provide any new information about something that would make living at the lunar pole much easier: frozen water.

Odyssey Moon Announces Commercial Launch Services Agreement

Oddyssey Moon logo. Credits: Odyssey Moon

[Odyssey Moon Press Release - 26.03.2008]
Odyssey Moon Limited, a commercial provider of lunar transportation products and services, announced today that it has reached a commercial launch services agreement with Celestis, Inc., the pioneer and global leader in Memorial Spaceflight. The agreement provides for payload capacity aboard Odyssey Moon’s lunar missions for placing memorial flight capsules and modules in lunar orbit or on the Moon.

New lunar south polar maps from SMART-1

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

[ESA Press Release - 11.03.2008]
Newly-released images of the lunar south-polar region obtained by ESA’s SMART-1 are proving to be wonderful tools to zero-in on suitable study sites for potential future lunar exploration missions.

SMART-1’s Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) has collected many images of the lunar south-polar region, with unprecedented spatial resolution. The images, obtained over a full year of changing seasons were used to study the different levels of solar illumination on the Moon’s surface.

NASA Awards Contracts for Design Study of Lunar Landing Craft

Lunar lander touch-down. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 17.03.2008]
NASA's Constellation Program has selected five space-related companies to receive contract awards for a 210-day study to independently evaluate NASA's in-house design concept for a lunar lander that will deliver four astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2020.

The awards total approximately $1.5 million, with a maximum individual award of $350,000. The study recommendations will be used to increase the technical maturity of the existing design in preparation for the development of vehicle requirements.

Odyssey Moon presents commercial mission of opportunity

Oddyssey Moon logo. Credits: Odyssey Moon

[Odyssey Moon Request for Information - 11.03.2008]
Background / Overview
Odyssey Moon Limited (OML) is a private commercial lunar enterprise offering lunar services and products for humanity’s permanent return to the Moon.

Odyssey Moon is planning a series of small robotic missions to the Moon in support of science, exploration and commerce in the coming decade. In December 2007, the company was unveiled as the first official competitor for the Google Lunar X PRIZE. It was also announced that mission design work had begun by the company’s prime contractor, MDA Space Missions of Canada.

Shaping the Moonscape: Workers Ready Course for NASA's 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

NASA Great Moonbuggy Race logo. Credits: NASA

Each year around this time, John Tripp walks across a lunar surface, pondering the challenges ahead for explorers brave enough to take on its cratered terrain. For now, his "moon" is a winding ribbon of cement footpaths looped around Huntsville's famed U.S. Space and Rocket Center, where Tripp is a construction foreman.

NASA Ames Scientist Selected for Return to Moon Team

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

A scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center is one of 24 researchers selected to join the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission to explore and measure geological features on the moon's surface. Scheduled for launch later this year, the mission represents NASA's first step toward returning humans to the moon.

Ross Beyer, a SETI Institute employee who works at Ames, will join the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team to help develop high-resolution imaging and topography to explore the lunar terrain for future landing sites. Beyer will help plan stereo observations and build topographic models in order to study the geologic history of the moon.

NASA Selects Scientists and Investigations for Robotic Moon Mission

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

NASA has selected 24 scientists to initiate new investigations and assist with planned measurements to be conducted by the agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Scheduled for launch later this year, LRO represents NASA's first step toward returning humans to the moon.

The orbiter will conduct a one-year primary mission exploring the moon, taking measurements to identify future robotic and human landing sites. In addition, it will study lunar resources and how the moon's environment will affect humans. The mission also will involve a spacecraft called the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), which will impact the lunar south pole to search for evidence of polar water frost.

NASA Collaborates with Astronomers in Search for Moon Water

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

In early 2009, astronomers on Earth will point telescopes at the moon looking for water -- and NASA will help them find their target.

NASA experts and professional astronomers are gathering today at NASA's Ames Research Center for the Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, Astronomer Workshop. The workshop's goal is to facilitate collaboration among experts concerning the best techniques to observe the expected debris plume created by the satellite's impacts on the lunar South Pole.

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