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NASA rejects Russian Moon cooperation

The Apollo-Soyuz mission patch. Credits: NASA

BBC reports that the US has rejected a Moscow proposal that the two countries join forces to explore the Moon. "We were ready to co-operate, but for unknown reasons, the United States have said they will undertake this programme themselves," Anatoly Perminov said.

US space agency NASA has said it plans to start work on a base on the Moon when astronauts return there in 2020. NASA has not commented on Mr Perminov's statement, reported by Interfax news. NASA and Russia's federal space agency Roskosmos have experience of working together on the International Space Station (ISS).

Shield for the Starship enterprise: A reality?

An artificial magnetosphere generated around manned space craft en route to the Moon. Credits: RAS

[18.04.07 - RAS Press Release]
In the last year space agencies in the United States, Europe, China, Japan and India have announced their intention to resume human exploration of the Solar system, beginning with the Moon and perhaps ultimately moving on to Mars. But travel beyond the immediate vicinity of the Earth carries significant risks for astronauts, not the least of which is the exposure to sometimes high levels of radiation. Now a team of scientists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory are set to construct an experimental magnetic shield that would protect explorers in their journeys between the planets. Dr Ruth Bamford will present this idea in her talk on Wednesday 18 April at the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting in Preston.

UK tests Moon lander technology

Soft lander proposal from EADS Astrium. Credits: EADS Astrium

BBC reports that British engineers are designing a Moon landing mission that would also test key technologies to take to Mars. The MoonTwins concept would put two probes on the lunar surface - one at each pole - to do science experiments. The work is being undertaken by the aerospace company Astrium at the request of the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA plans eventually to go to the Red Planet to retrieve rocks for analysis on Earth, and the Moon is seen as a good place to develop the know-how.

Engineers unveil China moon rover

A lunar rover proposal from the Shanghai Spaceflight Agency and others. Credits: China Daily

BBC reports that Chinese scientists have shown off a prototype Moon rover that could lead to the country's first unmanned mission to the lunar surface in 2012. The 1.5m (5ft) high, 200kg (440lbs) rover should transmit video in real time, dig into and analyse soil, and produce 3D images of the lunar surface.

Engineers have unveiled a prototype at the Shanghai institute where work on the six-wheeled vehicle is underway. Rival rovers are being developed at institutes in Beijing and elsewhere. It is not clear when the successful candidate will be selected.

Science vs. Exploration: A Piggyback Solution?

Lunex honorary board member Harrison Schmitt on the surface of the Moon. Credits: NASA

[Astrobiology Magazine - 29.03.2007]
Which is a better investment, science or exploration? The question is almost as old as the space program itself, and answering it won’t get any easier as humans move toward establishing a lunar base. But could science be an inevitable outgrowth of exploration? The exploration needed to occupy the moon will give us plenty of opportunities for basic lunar science. As the drive to explore and colonize the moon switches into high gear, some scientists worry that funding exploration could drain resources away from pure science.

Probing further into the space visions of the next 50 years

SGAC Logo. Credits: SGAC

In early January 2007, Space Generation Advisory Council put out a call for what the youth of today thought would be the key events of the next 50 years in space activities. This first call attracted 275 youth visionaries from all over the world to input to what new events would create the next giant leap for mankind. Is it space tourism, is it a lunar base that shall really be able to help us conquer the space frontier, or is a human landing on Mars that YOU wish to see in the coming 5, 10, 20 or 50 years?

Germany planning 300 M€ Lunar mission

Several sources are reporting that Germany is planning its own Moon exploration project. According to the German news provider ARD (link in German), Germany is planning to launch a 300 M€ Lunar orbiter in 2013. Walter Döllinger, Director of space programs at the German aerospace agency DLR, states that the mission will be a national one and that the main objective of the four years of operation in orbit around the Moon will be to make the first complete 3D map of the Moon surface. According to Spiegel, German MP Kurt Rossmanith said the following about why Germany and DLR wants to go to the Moon with a national project: "And there we also have to - putting it very bluntly - stake our own claim".

SMART-1's bridge to the future exploration of the Moon

SMART-1 heading for the Moon. Credits: ESA

[9 March 2007 - ESA Press Release]
ESA's SMART-1 moon mission has become a bridge to the future of lunar science and exploration. "SMART-1 data are helping to choose future landing sites for robotic and possible manned missions, and its instruments are upgraded and being flown again on the next generation of lunar satellites," says Bernard Foing, ESA SMART-1 Project scientist. "Even its spectacular impact campaign is helping NASA to plan their own moon crash."

Images of the Recent Lunar Eclipse

Just in case you missed it, here is a great collection of images from the recent lunar eclipse! Many of the images are absolutely amazing!

Take a look here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/loony/pool/

-Matt

Total Lunar eclipse visible from large parts of the world

On March 3rd a total eclipse of the Moon will occur. The totallity will be visible from parts of all seven continents on Earth, and viewers in Africa and Europe will be able to follow the complete 71 min totality.

  • Penumbral Eclipse Begins: 20:18:11 UTC
  • Partial Eclipse Begins: 21:30:22 UTC
  • Total Eclipse Begins: 22:44:13 UTC
  • Greatest Eclipse: 23:20:56 UTC
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