Blogs

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.

SMART-1: Travel maps of the lunar north pole

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

[ESA Press Release - 05.12.2007]
A new map obtained with SMART-1 data shows the geography and illumination of the lunar north pole. Such maps will be of great use for future lunar explorers.

The lunar poles are very interesting for future science and exploration of the Moon mainly because of their exposure to sunlight. They display areas of quasi-eternal light, have a stable thermal environment and are close to dark areas that could host water ice – potential future lunar base sites.

Watch Out for Flying Moondust

Lunar lander touch-down. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 28.11.2007]
NASA is returning to the Moon in the next decade with plans to establish a durable outpost. There will be habitats, rovers, supply depots and mining equipment. Ships will be coming and going, landing and blasting off--and kicking up debris that might fly a lot farther than boulders at Cape Canaveral. Metzger is researching this problem as part of his work at KSC's Granular Mechanics and Surface Systems Lab.

3D movies from Kaguya released

3D image of the Moon surface from Kaguya. Credits: JAXA

[JAXA Press Release - 28.11.2007]
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully demonstrated production of stereo movies (3 dimensional movies) of the Moon surface by using stereoscopic images obtained with the Terrain Camera (TC) onboard KAGUYA on Nov. 3, 2007 (Japan Standard Time, JST). This verification was performed as part of the initial check out of mission instruments onboard "KAGUYA" (SELENE), which was injected into the Moon's orbit at an altitude of about 100 km. These are the first 3-D movies of the Moon including its polar areas with an aerial resolution of 10 meters.

China publishes first moon picture

First image of the Moon from Chang'e-1

[Xinhuanet Press Release - 26.11.2007]
China published the first picture of the moon captured by Chang'e-1 on Monday morning, marking the success of the country's first lunar probe project.

The area covered by the picture, about 460 kilometers in length and 280 km in width, was located within a 54 to 70 degrees south latitude and 57 to 83 degrees east longitude, according to the BACC. The area pictured was part of the moon's highland and was mainly composed of plagioclase, a common rock-forming element. On the surface were craters of different sizes, shapes, structures and ages, the BACC sources said.

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