Astronauts Could Deploy Extra Arms to Stay Stable on the Moon

Astronaut with "SuperLimbs"

Walking along on the surface of the Moon, as aptly demonstrated by the Apollo astronauts, is no easy feat.  The gravity at the Moon’s surface is 1/6th of Earth’s and there are plenty of videos of astronauts stumbling, falling and then trying to get up! Engineers have come up with a solution; a robotic arm system that can be attached to an astronauts back pack to give them a helping hand if they fall. The “SuperLimbs” as they have been called will not only aid them as they walk around the surface but also give them extra stability while carrying out tasks. 

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Low Gravity Simulator Lets You Jump Around in Lunar Gravity

A participant uses the MoLo facility in Milan, Italy which simulates lunar gravity. Credit: ESA.

When the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon, they had to perform tasks in 1/6th of Earth’s gravity. At first, walking and working in this low gravity environment posed some challenges. However, the astronauts soon adapted and figured out that hopping like a bunny made it easier to get around.

The Artemis astronauts will also need to adapt to life on the Moon, and to that end, ESA has built a unique facility in a 17-meter (55 ft.) refurbished ventilation shaft.  

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NASA has Simulated a Tiny Part of the Moon Here on Earth

Using the Lunar Lab and Regolith Testbeds at NASA’s Ames Research Center, a team created this simulated lunar environment to study lighting conditions experienced at the unexplored poles of the Moon. Credit: NASA/Uland Wong.

Before going to the Moon, the Apollo astronauts trained at various sites on Earth that best approximated the lunar surface, such as the volcanic regions Iceland and Hawaii and deserts in the US Southwest.  To help prepare for upcoming robotic and human Artemis missions, a newly upgraded “mini-Moon” lunar testbed will allow astronauts and robots to test out realistic conditions on the Moon including rough terrain and unusual sunlight.

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Remembering the Gutsy and Hilarious Apollo Astronaut Jim McDivitt

An image of Jim McDivitt on Apollo 9, March 7, 1969, where McDivitt is conducting the world’s first docking of two crewed spacecraft with internal transfer – a technique that would become critical in the later missions to the moon. The image is from underexposed film and recovered by Andy Saunders, who used it for the cover shot of the new book “Apollo Remastered.” Credit: NASA / JSC / ASU / Andy Saunders.

Former NASA astronaut Jim McDivitt, who commanded the important Gemini IV and Apollo 9 missions – both crucial for NASA’s ability to reach the Moon — has died at age 93. His family said he passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 13, 2022.

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Remembering NASA Engineer Jerry Woodfill, the Inspiration Behind “13 Things That Saved Apollo 13”

Jerry Woodfill, an engineer who worked diligently behind the scenes during NASA’s Apollo program, has passed away at age 79. Jerry was still employed by the Johnson Space Center (JSC) at the time of his death, working there for over 57 years. Most notably, Jerry worked as the lead engineer behind the Caution and Warning System on the Apollo spacecraft, which alerted astronauts to issues such as Apollo 11’s computer problems during the first Moon landing, and the explosion of Apollo 13’s oxygen tanks.

While continuing his work as an engineer at JSC, Jerry’s infectious enthusiasm for spaceflight led him to also be part of NASA’s public and educational outreach, where he spearheaded programs for children, teachers and adults about science and space flight. He routinely gave over 40 lectures a year, both in person and online to listeners around the world. His unique sense of humor and sometimes unabashed showmanship could hold even the shortest of young attention spans. Jerry usually had his audiences either in stitches or fully captivated by his stories.  

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Remembering NASA Flight Director Glynn Lunney, 1936-2021

Glynn S. Lunney at his console in the MCC during an Apollo simulation exercise in Mission Control at the Manned Spacecraft Center. Credit: NASA.

Legendary NASA flight director Glynn Lunney has passed away at age 84. Lunney played a key role in the early days of NASA, helping to create the concept and operation of what we now reverently know as Mission Control. His calm decisiveness was lauded during the Gemini and Apollo missions he guided as flight director, and his leadership was especially pivotal in bringing the crew of Apollo 13 safely back to Earth.

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Is There An Apollo 14 Moon Tree Near You?

A plaque from the original Moon Tree planted in Washington Square in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Image by Nancy Atkinson.

50 years ago this week, the Apollo 14 crew flew their mission to the Moon. Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell were the third pair of astronauts to walk on the lunar surface. They conducted two moonwalks in the Fra Mauro highlands, collecting rocks and setting up science experiments, as well as broadcasting the first color TV images from the Moon.

Meanwhile, Stuart Roosa remained in orbit as the Command Module pilot. But Roosa wasn’t alone while circling above the Moon.  

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What the Astronauts Saw as They Orbited the Moon During Apollo 17

The crescent Earth rises above the lunar horizon in this spectacular photograph taken by the Apollo 17 crew in lunar orbit in December, 1972, during NASA’s final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. Credit: NASA. Image editing and enhancement: Kevin Gill.

This view always gets me *right there.* But this new version really gets me.

This is what Apollo 17 astronauts saw in December of 1972 as they came around the farside of the Moon: the blue and white crescent Earth rising above the stark lunar horizon. And now image editing guru Kevin Gill has sharpened the image, giving it more texture, color and contrast. I can imagine this sharp, spectacular view must be close to what the astronauts saw with their own eyes.  

“There I was, and there you are, the Earth – dynamic, overwhelming…” said Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan.  

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Remembering Don Arabian, the ‘Mad Genius’ Behind NASA’s Apollo Engineering Team

Don Arabian, center, yelling into the phone in the Mission Evaluation Room at Johnson Space Center during one of the Apollo missions. Credit: NASA/JSC.

One of the truly unsung heroes of the Apollo program has passed away at age 95. Donald D. Arabian, Chief of the Apollo Test Division, headed the Mission Evaluation Room (MER), which was responsible for solving in-flight problems during the Apollo missions to the Moon.  

His nickname was “Mad Don,” and anyone who had the privilege of meeting him or working with him described Arabian as “one of a kind,” “colorful,” and “completely and totally unforgettable.” But in the book “Apollo: Race to the Moon” authors Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox designated Arabian as one of four people responsible for the success of the Apollo Program. 

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AI Upscales Apollo Lunar Footage to 60 FPS

Mosaic of 16mm footage from the Apollo 16 mission. Original footage credit: NASA. Mosaic by Niels/ DutchSteamMachine.

As exciting and thrilling as it is to watch all the historic footage from the Apollo Moon landings, you have to admit, the quality is sometimes not all that great. Even though NASA has worked on restoring and enhancing some of the most popular Apollo footage, some of it is still grainy or blurry — which is indicative of the video technology available in the 1960s.

But now, new developments in artificial intelligence have come to the rescue, providing viewers a nearly brand new experience in watching historic Apollo video.

A photo and film restoration specialist, who goes by the name of DutchSteamMachine, has worked some AI magic to enhance original Apollo film, creating strikingly clear and vivid video clips and images.

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