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BCIT Return to the Moon symposium posts presentations online

The BCIT Return to the Moon symposium held as far back as in April 2008 at the University of British Columbia, has posted videos of three presentations made at the event. The presentations are made by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, founder and CEO of Odyssey Moon Robert D. Richards, and Astronaut Tome Jones.

Harrison H. Schmitt hold a very interesiting talk about challenges we have on earth and how resources from the moon can help us solve these problems, Tome Jones talks about his personal experience in space, including being on the space shuttle and the role of space fligh in todays society, and Robert D. Richards wraps up with an excellent and very motivating talk about the role of private industry and participatory exploration.

Development of the ESMO student Moon satellite gets under way

ESA Logo. Credits: ESA

[ESA Press Release - 06.11.2009]
ESA's Education Office has awarded a contract to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd of the UK to manage the development and testing of the first European student mission to the Moon. Launch is expected in 2013-2014.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has been selected as the prime contractor for the European Student Moon Orbiter (ESMO) project. The final signature of the contract took place on 4 November 2009. The mission involves delivering a spacecraft to lunar orbit, followed by 6 months of operations that include mapping of the lunar surface and studying our nearest neighbour.

NASA and X Prize Announce Winners of Lunar Lander Challenge

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Logo. Credits: X Prize

[NASA Press Release - 03.11.2009]
NASA will award $1.65 million in prize money Thursday to a pair of innovative aerospace companies that successfully simulated landing a spacecraft on the moon and lifting off again.

NASA's Centennial Challenges program will give a $1 million first prize to Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif., and a $500,000 second prize to Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Tex., for their Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge flights. The competition was managed by the X PRIZE Foundation. The Northrop Grumman Corporation is a commercial sponsor that provided operating funds for the contest to the X PRIZE Foundation.

NASA Mission to Study the Moon's Fragile Atmosphere

LADEE model. Credits: NASA

[NASA Science Article - 23.10.2009]
Right now, the Moon is a ghost town. Nothing stirs. Here and there, an abandoned Apollo rover — or the dusty base of a lunar lander — linger as silent testimony to past human activity. But these days, only occasional asteroid impacts disrupt the decades-long spell of profound stillness.

And this stillness presents scientists with an important opportunity.

Teams Win at NASA National Lunar Robotics Competition

Artist impression of a regolith exavator. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 19.10.2009]
Nineteen teams pushed their robot competitors to the limit, and three teams claimed a total of $750,000 in NASA prizes at this year's Regolith Excavation Challenge on Oct. 18. This is the first time in the competition's three-year history that any team qualified for a cash prize, the largest NASA has awarded to date.

After two days of intense competition hosted at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., organizers conferred first place prize of $500,000 to Paul's Robotics of Worcester, Mass. Terra Engineering of Gardena, Calif., was a three-time returning competitor and was awarded second place prize of $150,000, and Team Braundo of Rancho Palos Verde, Calif., took the third place of $100,000 as a first-time competitor.

The ambitions of Europe in space

ESA Logo. Credits: ESA

[ESA Press Release - 19.10.2009]
A conference on ‘The Ambitions of Europe in Space’ on 15 and 16 October brought together members of the European Parliament, Council, European Commission, agencies, industry, research entities, operators, financing institutions as well as interested people from the media and public.

In his opening speech, the newly re-elected president of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, noted that space is an enabling tool allowing Europe to face some fundamental challenges: fighting the economic crisis, ensuring the well-being of our citizens, tackling climate change, finding ways to unleash our full potential for innovation and job creation, and to bring about a true knowledge society, as well as reinforcing Europe’s position in the world scene.

Lunar Lander Floats on Electric-blue Jets

Prototype lunar lander. Credits: NASA

[NASA Science Article - 15.10.2009]
How do you fly on a world with no atmosphere? Wings won't work and neither do propellers. And don't even try that parachute!

NASA engineer Brian Mulac has the answer. "All it takes is practice, practice, practice," he says. "And of course, thrusters."

The space agency is perfecting the art using a prototype lunar lander at the Marshall Space Flight Center:

NASA Hosts National Lunar Robotics Moon Excavation Competition

Artist impression of a regolith exavator. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 15.10.2009]
Reporters are invited to attend the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Oct. 17-18 at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. The $750,000 prize challenge is a nationwide competition that focuses on developing improved handling technologies for moon dirt, known as lunar regolith.

Part of NASA's Centennial Challenges Program, the competition will see

Hydrogen offers a new way to study the Moon

Chandrayaan-1 SARA measurements of hydrogen flux. Credits: Elsevier and ESA/ISRO

[ESA Press Release - 16.10.2009]
The Moon is a surprisingly strong source of hydrogen atoms. That is the surprise discovery from ESA-ISRO instrument SARA onboard the Indian Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter. It gives scientists an interesting new way to study both the Moon and any other airless bodies in the Solar System.

According to conventional wisdom, the lunar surface is a loose collection of irregular dust grains. Any particle that hits it should bounce between the grains and be absorbed. But the new results clearly show that one out of every five protons incoming from the solar wind rebounds from the Moon’s surface. In the process, the proton joins with an electron to become an atom of hydrogen.

NASA Spacecraft Impacts Lunar Crater in Search for Water Ice

LCROSS before impact. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 09.10.2009]
NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, created twin impacts on the moon's surface early Friday in a search for water ice. Scientists will analyze data from the spacecraft's instruments to assess whether water ice is present.

The satellite traveled 5.6 million miles during an historic 113-day mission that ended in the Cabeus crater, a permanently shadowed region near the moon's south pole. The spacecraft was launched June 18 as a companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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