Blogs

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.

Students Gear Up For NASA's Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

The Apollo 17 rover on the surface of the Moon. Credits: NASA

NASA is looking for a fast set of wheels. The 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race is set for April 4-5. During the race, dozens of high school and college teams careen around a track at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. They pilot wheeled rovers of their own design, and perhaps launch their future as the next generation of lunar explorers.

NASA's Quest to Find Water on the Moon Moves Closer to Launch

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 14.01.2008]
Cameras and sensors that will look for the presence of water on the moon have completed validation tests and been shipped to the manufacturer of NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.

The science instruments for the satellite, which is known as LCROSS, departed NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field Calif., for the Northrop Grumman Corporation's facility in Redondo Beach, Calif. to be integrated with the spacecraft. A video file is available on NASA Television. LCROSS is scheduled to launch with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., by the end of 2008.

NASA's Next Moon Mission Spacecraft Undergoing Critical Tests

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 14.01.2008]
NASA's next mission to Earth's closest astronomical body is in the midst of integration and testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, known as LRO, will spend at least a year mapping the surface of the moon. Data from the orbiter will help NASA select safe landing sites for astronauts, identify lunar resources and study how the moon's environment will affect humans.

Bill Stone: Journey to the center of the Earth ... and beyond!

Watching this video was the best 20 minutes of my day.

Bill Stone, the maverick cave explorer who invented robots and dive equipment that have allowed him to plumb Earth's deepest abysses, explains his efforts to build a robot to explore Jupiter's moon Europa. The plan is to send the machine to bore through miles of ice and swim through a liquid underworld that may harbor alien life. And if that's not enough, he's also planning to mine lunar ice by 2015.

Europe’s next ride to the Moon: Chandrayaan-1

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

[EAS Press Release - 11.01.2008]
Excitement is rising as ESA is in the final stages of preparation for the first collaborative space mission with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Chandrayaan-1 will study the Moon in great detail and be the first Indian scientific mission leaving the Earth’s vicinity.

Europe is supplying three instruments for the mission.
The Moon retains its fascination for planetary scientists and presents many mysteries still ripe for investigation. Chandrayaan, which means ‘journey to the Moon’ in Hindi, will study the Moon at many wavelengths from X-rays, visible, and near infrared to microwaves during its mission. It will orbit the moon in a circular path, just 100 km above the lunar surface.

Kaguya transition to operation phase

Kaguya in orbit around the Moon. Credits: Akihiro Ikeshita/JAXA

[JAXA Press Release - 21.12.2007]
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is pleased to announce that the operation phase of the lunar explorer, KAGUYA (SELENE), was transitioned to normal operations from its initial check out on December 21 (Japan Standard Time, all the following dates and time are JST), 2007 as we were able to acquire satisfactory verification results for all fifteen observation missions. The results are shown in the following chart.

India Installs Antennas for Planned Moon Mission

AFP reports that India has installed a pair of giant antennas to monitor a planned robotic mission to the moon.

"The deep space network at Byalalu, 45 kilometres (30 miles) from Bangalore, will keep track of the Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission and provide command support during its two-year orbit around the moon, India's space agency said.

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