Blogs

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.

Lighting up the Lunar Night with Fuel Cells

Illustration of a solar array and regenerative fuel cell on the moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 12.12.2007]
How do you survive in a remote, mountainous region that has no water or wind and sometimes goes without sunlight for weeks?

This is not the premise for a survivalist reality show; it's a question NASA must answer before sending humans to live and work on the moon.

Within the next twenty years, people again will explore the vast lunar terrain. This time, we're going to build a permanent outpost where we will conduct scientific research, learn to live off the land, and test new technologies for future missions to Mars and beyond.

Earth's magnetic field could help protect astronauts working on the moon

[University of Wasington Press Release - 12.12.07]
It has been 35 years since humans last walked on the moon, but there has been much recent discussion about returning, either for exploration or to stage a mission to Mars. However, there are concerns about potential radiation danger for astronauts during long missions on the lunar surface.

A significant part of that danger results from solar storms, which can shoot particles from the sun to Earth at nearly the speed of light and can heat oxygen in the Earth's ionosphere and send it in a hazardous stream toward the moon.

New NASA Mission to Reveal Moon's Internal Structure and Evolution

[NASA Press Release - 11.12.07]At a Monday meeting of the American Geophysical Union, NASA's Associate Administrator for Science Alan Stern announced the selection of a new mission that will peer deep inside the moon to reveal its anatomy and history.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission is a part of NASA's Discovery Program. It will cost $375 million and is scheduled to launch in 2011. GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

Astrobotic Technology and Raytheon Collaborate to Pursue Google Lunar X Prize

Astrobotic Technology logo. Credits: Astrobotic Technology

[Astrobotic Press Release - 10.12.2007]
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. has selected Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) as its supplier for development of a next-generation of high-precision, propellant-efficient lunar landing technologies.

On Sept. 13, 2007, Dr. William L. “Red” Whittaker, Astrobotic’s Chief Technology Officer and Lunar Mission Commander declared his intention to pursue the recently announced Google Lunar X Prize. Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is the commercial organization through which Dr. Whittaker plans to carry out the lunar mission as well as engage in potential commercial orbital transfer services and potential cis-lunar services that may be best enabled by leading-edge robotics.

International Team Enters The Google Lunar X Prize Moon Race

InterPlanetary Ventures logo. Credits: InterPlanetary Ventures

[InterPlanetary Ventures Press Release - 10.12.2007]
InterPlanetary Ventures has formed an international team to compete in the Google Lunar X Prize race to the moon, which includes $30,000,000 in prizes for competition winners. The InterPlanetary Ventures team includes working groups in Sweden, India, Sri Lanka and the United States, and individuals in several other countries, promoting international cooperation in space exploration and development.

History Making Moon Mission Unveiled

Oddyssey Moon logo. Credits: Odyssey Moon

[Odyssey Moon Press Release - 06.12.2007]
The first team to complete registration for the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE unveiled its plans today at the Space Investment Summit in San Jose, California. Representatives of Odyssey Moon announced their plans to make history with the first private robotic mission to the surface of the Moon and their intent to win the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. Odyssey Moon’s inaugural mission will involve a unique small robotic lander designed to deliver scientific, exploration and commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon.

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