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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Study Shows How Cells Could Help Artemis Astronauts Exercise

NASA’s Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts further into space than ever before using a module based on Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATV). Credit: NASA

In 2033, NASA and China plan to send the first crewed missions to Mars. These missions will launch every two years when Earth and Mars are at the closest points in their orbits (Mars Opposition). It will take these missions six to nine months to reach the Red Planet using conventional technology. This means that astronauts could spend up to a year and a half in microgravity, followed by months of surface operations in Martian gravity (roughly 40% of Earth gravity). This could have drastic consequences for astronaut health, including muscle atrophy, bone density loss, and psychological effects.

Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts maintain a strict exercise regimen to mitigate these effects. However, astronauts will not have the same option while in transit to Mars since their vehicles (the Orion spacecraft) have significantly less volume. To address this challenge, Professor Marni Boppart and her colleagues at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology are developing a process using regenerative cells. This work could help ensure that astronauts arrive at Mars healthy, hearty, and ready to explore!

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We’re Going to see at Least Five More SLS Rockets Launch in the Coming Years

March 2022 image of NASA's Space Launch System rocket’s core stage forward assembly boasting a 40-meter (130-foot) liquid hydrogen tank. (Credits: NASA/Eric Bordelon)

NASA’s continued goal of sending humans into deep space using its Space Launch System (SLS) recently took a giant leap as the world’s largest space agency finalized the SLS Stages Production and Evolution Contract worth $3.2 billion with The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama. The purpose of the contract is for Boeing to keep building SLS core and upper stages for future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond for at least five more SLS launches.

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Power on the Moon. What Will it Take to Survive the Lunar Night?

Artist rendering of an Artemis astronaut exploring the Moon’s surface during a future mission. Credit: NASA

With the help of international and commercial partners, NASA is sending astronauts back to the Moon for the first time in over fifty years. In addition to sending crewed missions to the lunar surface, the long-term objective of the Artemis Program is to create the necessary infrastructure for a program of “sustained lunar exploration and development.” But unlike the Apollo missions that sent astronauts to the equatorial region of the Moon, the Artemis Program will send astronauts to the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin, culminating in the creation of a habitat (the Artemis Basecamp).

This region contains many permanently-shadowed craters and experiences a night cycle that lasts fourteen days (a “Lunar Night“). Since solar energy will be limited in these conditions, the Artemis astronauts, spacecraft, rovers, and other surface elements will require additional power sources that can operate in cratered regions and during the long lunar nights. Looking for potential solutions, the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI) and the NASA Glenn Research Center recently hosted two space nuclear technologies workshops designed to foster solutions for long-duration missions away from Earth.

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Watch a NASA Supercut of the Entire Artemis I Mission, From Launch to Landing

The Earth and Moon as see from the Orion spacecraft, close to 435,000 km (270,000 miles) from Earth. Credit: NASA livestream.

In case you missed any of the 25-day flight of Artemis 1, NASA has compiled a 25-minute highlight reel that showcases the top moments of the mission, from launch to splashdown.

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Orion Splashes Down in the Pacific Ocean, Completing the Artemis I Mission

NASA’s Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 9:40 a.m. PST on Sunday, Dec. 11, after a 25.5 day mission to the Moon. Credit: NASA

On December 11th, at 09:40 a.m. PST (12:40 p.m. EST), NASA’s Artemis I mission splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. The return of the uncrewed Orion spacecraft marks the end of the Artemis Program’s inaugural mission, which launched on November 16th and validated the spacecraft and its heavy launch vehicle – the Space Launch System (SLS). During its 25.5-day circumlunar flight, the Orion spacecraft traveled more than 2.25 million km (1.4 million mi) and flew beyond the Moon’s orbit, establishing a new distance record.

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NASA Releases Another Supercut of the Artemis I Mission, Showing the Launch and Flight Past the Moon

The Earth and Moon as see from the Orion spacecraft, close to 435,000 km (270,000 miles) from Earth. Credit: NASA livestream.

Artemis I is now on day seventeen of its mission, having just completed its distant retrograde orbit burn. This maneuver has placed the uncrewed Orion spacecraft (loaded with mannequins and sensors) on its way back to Earth. In honor of this historic mission that has traveled farther than any spacecraft in history, NASA has released a second supercut video of footage from the mission. The 1-minute, 36-second video includes highlights from the maiden launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft making its circumlunar flight and looking back at the Earth-Moon system.

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NASA Releases a Stunning New Supercut of the Artemis I Launch

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft launches on the Artemis I flight test, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA just released a new supercut of high-resolution video from the Artemis I launch on November 16, 2022. Much of the footage is from cameras attached to the rocket itself, allowing everyone to ride along from engine ignition to the separation of the Orion capsule as it begins its journey to the Moon.

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OK, Artemis. Now You’re Just Showing Off. A Stunning View of the Moon Eclipsing Earth From the Orion Spacecraft

Screenshot of the Moon eclipsing Earth, via NASA's livestream from Orion.

Have you ever seen a lunar eclipse of the Earth from the far side of the Moon? Now we have.

On Monday (November 28, 2022) NASA’s Orion spacecraft streamed back live video showing the Earth and Moon right next to each other, followed by a stunning view of the Moon eclipsing the Earth.

What a time to be alive! Image editor Kevin Gill might have said it best:

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Artemis I has Completed its First Flyby of the Moon

A portion of the far side of the Moon looms large just beyond the Orion spacecraft in this image taken on the sixth day of the Artemis I mission by a camera on the tip of one of Orion s solar arrays. Credit: NASA.

The Orion spacecraft made its first close flyby of the Moon on Monday, November 21, coming as close as 81 statute miles (130 km) from the lunar surface. As the Artemis 1 mission’s uncrewed spacecraft flew past the far side of the Moon, Orion’s orbital maneuvering system engine fired for 2 minutes and 30 seconds to successfully put the capsule into the desired orbit for the mission, called a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.

“This burn is setting Orion up to orbit the Moon, and is largest propulsive event so far, as Artemis is hunting the Moon,” said Mike Sarafin, Artemis Mission Manager at a briefing on Monday.

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