New Radar Maps of the Moon

Radar image of the Lunar south pole. Credits: Cornell University

NASA has obtained new high-resolution radar maps of the Moon's south pole--a region the space agency is considering as a landing site when astronauts return to the Moon in the years ahead.

"We now know the south pole has peaks as high as Mt. McKinley and crater floors four times deeper than the Grand Canyon," says Doug Cooke, deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. "These data will be an invaluable tool for advance planning of lunar missions."

NASA Views Landing Site Through Eyes of Future Moon Crew

Astronauts and Lander on the surface of the Moon. Credits: NASA

NASA has obtained the highest resolution terrain mapping to date of the moon's rugged south polar region, with a resolution to 20 meters per pixel. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., collected the data using the facility's Goldstone Solar System Radar located in California's Mojave Desert.
The imagery generated by the data has been incorporated into animation depicting the descent to the lunar surface of a future human lunar lander and a flyover of Shackleton Crater.

NASA Team Demonstrates Robot Technology For Moon Exploration

NASA's new lunar truck prototype. Credits: NASA

During the 3rd Space Exploration Conference Feb. 26-28 in Denver, NASA will exhibit a robot rover equipped with a drill designed to find water and oxygen-rich soil on the moon.

"Resources are the key to sustainable outposts on the moon and Mars," said Bill Larson, deputy manager of the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) project. "It's too expensive to bring everything from Earth. This is the first step toward understanding the potential for lunar resources and developing the knowledge needed to extract them economically."

NASA Taps Astronomy Community to Help Search for Lunar Water

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

News media are invited to attend a briefing from 12 p.m. to 12:30 noon PST Friday, Feb. 29 in Building 943 at NASA's Ames Research Center about the Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, and the mission's participatory emphasis.

The briefing is part of the LCROSS Astronomer Workshop, which focuses on collaboration among NASA experts and professional astronomers on techniques for observing the debris plume that will be created when LCROSS hits the surface of the moon in early 2009. The objective of the mission is to detect possible water on the moon. Future mission activities will engage the amateur astronomy community, students and the public using ground-based and space-based telescopes.

NASA to Release Enhanced Radar Imagery of Lunar South Pole

Radar image of the Lunar south pole. Credits: Cornell University

NASA scientists have obtained the highest resolution terrain mapping to date of the moon's rugged south polar region and will discuss the imagery Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the 3rd Space Exploration Conference in Denver.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., generated the imagery using data collected with the facility's Goldstone Solar System Radar. The news media briefing is scheduled for noon MST in Room 506 of the Colorado Convention Center.

Who's Orbiting the Moon?

Earth-rise seen from Kaguya. Credits: JAXA/NHK

[NASA Press Release - 22.02.2008]
The space around Earth is a busy place, as teeming with traffic as a roundabout. More than 500 active satellites are bustling about up there right now. Some are transmitting radio, television, and telephone signals; others are gathering information about Earth's atmosphere and weather; still others are helping people navigate down here; and the rest are conducting space research.

Listening to the Universe from the Far Side of the Moon

MIT prototype of a radio telescope array. Credits: MIT

[MIT Press Release - 19.02.2008]
NASA has selected a proposal by an MIT-led team to develop plans for an array of radio telescopes on the far side of the moon that would probe the earliest formation of the basic structures of the universe. The agency announced the selection and 18 others related to future observatories on Friday, Feb.15.

The new MIT telescopes would explore one of the greatest unknown realms of astronomy, the so-called "Dark Ages" near the beginning of the universe when stars, star clusters and galaxies first came into existence. This period of roughly a billion years, beginning shortly after the Big Bang, closely followed the time when cosmic background radiation, which has been mapped using satellites, filled all of space. Learning about this unobserved era is considered essential to filling in our understanding of how the earliest structures in the universe came into being.

India defers lunar mission launch

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

India's first exploratory mission to moon Chandrayaan-1, scheduled for launch on April 9, has been deferred, a top space agency official said here on Tuesday.

"As a number of pre-launch tests have to be conducted, it is difficult to meet the April 9 deadline," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman G Madhavan Nair told IANS over phone.

"The mission payload has 12 instruments. We will decide on the next launch date by this month-end after a review meeting," he said.

NASA Names Interim Lunar Science Institute Director

David Morrison has been appointed interim director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, based at the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., effective immediately. A nationwide search for a permanent director is under way.

A world-renowned planetary scientist, Morrison currently serves as senior scientist at the Ames-based NASA Astrobiology Institute. The Lunar Science Institute will be modeled after the Astrobiology Institute, with teams across the nation working together to help lead the agency's research activities related to NASA's exploration goals.

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