Artemis Astronauts Will Deploy New Seismometers on the Moon

Giordano Bruno crater on the Moon, as seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This young crater sports impact rays that may help scientists as they consider landing sties for future Artemis missions. Courtesy: NASA/LRO.
Giordano Bruno crater on the Moon, as seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This young crater sports impact rays that may help scientists as they consider landing sties for future Artemis missions. Courtesy: NASA/LRO.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Apollo astronauts set up a collection of lunar seismometers to detect possible Moon quakes. These instruments monitored lunar activity for eight years and gave planetary scientists an indirect glimpse into the Moon’s interior. Now, researchers are developing new methods for lunar quake detection techniques and technologies. If all goes well, the Artemis astronauts will deploy them when they return to the Moon.

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The Solar Eclipse Like We’ve Never Seen it Before

This image from the Inouye Solar Telescope shows the Moon blocking out part of the Sun during the April 8th solar eclipse. Image Credit: Credit: DKIST/NSO/NSF/AURA

You had to be in the right part of North America to get a great view of the recent solar eclipse. But a particular telescope may have had the most unique view of all. Even though that telescope is in Hawaii and only experienced a partial eclipse, its images are interesting.

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NASA is Building an Electrodynamic Shield to Deal with all that Dust on the Moon and Mars

Artist's illustration of Artemis III astronauts on the Moon. Credit: NASA.

Exploration of the Moon or other dusty environments comes with challenges. The lunar surface is covered in material known as regolith and its a jaggy, glassy material. It can cause wear and tear on equipment and can pose a health risk to astronauts too. Astronauts travelling to Mars would experience dust saucing to everything, including solar panels leading to decrease in power. To combat the problems created by dust, NASA is working on an innovative electrodynamic dust shield to remove dust and protect surfaces from solar panels to space suits. 

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Wireless Power Transmission Could Enable Exploration of the Far Side of the Moon

Schematic from Figure 1 of the study displaying the wireless power transmission and receiver on the lunar far side with three satellites (SPS-1, SPS-2, and SPS-3) in a halo orbit at the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2. (Credit: Donmez & Kurt (2024))

How can future lunar exploration communicate from the far side of the Moon despite never being inline with the Earth? This is what a recent study submitted to IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems hopes to address as a pair of researchers from the Polytechnique Montréal investigated the potential for a wireless power transmission method (WPT) comprised of anywhere from one to three satellites located at Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 (EMLP-2) and a solar-powered receiver on the far side of the Moon. This study holds the potential to help scientists and future lunar astronauts maintain constant communication between the Earth and Moon since the lunar far side of the Moon is always facing away from Earth from the Moon’s rotation being almost entirely synced with its orbit around the Earth.

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Finally, an Explanation for the Moon’s Radically Different Hemispheres

Schematic illustration with a gravity gradient map (blue hexagonal pattern) of the lunar nearside and a cross-section showing two ilmenite-bearing cumulate downwellings from lunar mantle overturn.

Pink Floyd was wrong, there is no dark side to the Moon. There is however, a far side. The tidal effects between the Earth and Moon have caused this captured or synchronous rotation. The two sides display very different geographical features; the near side with mare and ancient volcanic flows while the far side displaying craters within craters. New research suggests the Moon has turned itself inside out with heavy elements like titanium returning to the surface. It’s now thought that a giant impact on the far side pushed titanium to the surface, creating a thinner more active near side. 

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US Satellite Photographs a South Korean Satellite from Lunar Orbit

This Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image shows the Republic of Korea's Danuri lunar orbiter travelling above the lunar surface. Capturing the image wasn't easy. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

In 2009, NASA launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO.) Its ongoing mission is to map the lunar surface in detail, locating potential landing sites, resources, and interesting features like lava tubes. The mission is an ongoing success, another showcase of NASA’s skill. It’s mapped about 98.2% of the lunar surface, excluding the deeply shadowed regions in the polar areas.

But recently, the LRO team’s skill was on display for another reason: it captured images of another satellite speeding over the lunar surface.

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Here's the Total Solar Eclipse, Seen From Space

Credit: NASA/Keegan Barber

On Monday, April 8th, people across North America witnessed a rare celestial event known as a total solar eclipse. This phenomenon occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth and blocks the face of the Sun for a short period. The eclipse plunged the sky into darkness for people living in the Canadian Maritimes, the American Eastern Seaboard, parts of the Midwest, and northern Mexico. Fortunately for all, geostationary satellites orbiting Earth captured images of the Moon’s shadow as it moved across North America.

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What Could We Build With Lunar Regolith?

A close-up view of astronaut Buzz Aldrin's bootprint in the lunar soil, photographed with the 70mm lunar surface camera during Apollo 11's sojourn on the moon. Image by NASA

It has often been likened to talcum powder. The ultra fine lunar surface material known as the regolith is crushed volcanic rock. For visitors to the surface of the Moon it can be a health hazard, causing wear and tear on astronauts and their equipment, but it has potential. The fine material may be suitable for building roads, landing pads and shelters. Researchers are now working to analyse its suitability for a number of different applications.

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Start Your Engines: NASA Picks 3 Teams to Work on Lunar Terrain Vehicle

Illustration: NASA's Lunar Terrain Vehicle concept
An artist's conception shows NASA's generic concept for the Lunar Terrain Vehicle. (NASA Illustration)

Some of the biggest names in aerospace — and the automotive industry — will play roles in putting NASA astronauts in the driver’s seat for roving around on the moon.

The space agency today selected three teams to develop the capabilities for a lunar terrain vehicle, or LTV, which astronauts could use during Artemis missions to the moon starting with Artemis 5. That mission is currently scheduled for 2029, three years after the projected date for Artemis’ first crewed lunar landing.

The teams’ leading companies may not yet be household names outside the space community: Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Venturi Astrolab. But each of those ventures has more established companies as their teammates.

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Mapping Lava Tubes on the Moon and Mars from Space

Sometimes, all you need for a new discovery is some creative math. That was the case for a new paper by Edward Williams and Laurent Montési of the University of Maryland’s Department of Geology. They released a brief paper at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference last month that describes a mathematical way to estimate the size of a lava tube using only remote sensing techniques.

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