India’s space organization, ISRO, launched Chandrayaan 2 to the Moon last year in July. While its lander Vikram crashed on the lunar surface on September 7, the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter continues to orbit the Moon.Continue reading “India’s Chandrayaan 2 is Creating the Highest Resolution Map We Have of the Moon”
NASA’s Artemis Program is planning to land astronauts on the Moon’s south pole. To prepare for this, NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) is creating the Lunar South Pole Atlas (LSPA). As part of that Atlas, NASA is mapping the topography of the region, including the mountains.Continue reading “Comparing Mountains on the Moon to the Earth’s Peaks”
Meet VIPER, NASA’s new lunar rover, equipped with a drill to probe the Moon’s surface and look for water ice. VIPER, or Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, will carry a one-meter drill and will use it to map out water resources at the Moon’s south pole. It’s scheduled to be on the lunar surface by December 2023, one year later than it’s initial date.Continue reading “NASA is Planning to Build a Lunar Rover With a 1-Meter Drill to Search for Water Ice”
Astronomers are increasingly interested in Near-Earth Objects, or NEOs. There are ongoing efforts to find them all and catalog them all, and to find out which ones might pose a collision threat. Now some astronomers with the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey have found a new, tiny, temporary moon for Earth.Continue reading “Astronomers Discover a Tiny New Temporary Moon for the Earth. Welcome to the Family 2020 CD3”
It’s time to update the rules. That’s the conclusion of a panel that examined NASA’s rules for planetary protection. It was smart, at the dawn of the space age, to think about how we might inadvertently pollute other worlds with Earthly microbes as we explore the Solar System. But now that we know a lot more than we did back then, the rules don’t fit.Continue reading “A NASA Panel Says We Don’t Need to be so Careful About Infecting Other Worlds”
NASA is developing new spacesuits for their Artemis program. The new suits will give the astronauts greater mobility, will be safer, and will be designed from the ground up to fit women.Continue reading “NASA’s New Lunar Spacesuit is Going to be a Lot More Comfortable for Astronauts”
The Moon has abundant oxygen and minerals, things that are indispensable to any space-faring civilization. The problem is they’re locked up together in the regolith. Separating the two will provide a wealth of critical resources, but separating them is a knotty problem.Continue reading “This is What Moondust Looks Like When You Remove All the Oxygen. A Pile of Metal”
When China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft landed on the lunar far side on January 3rd 2019, it made history. It was the first spacecraft to visit that part of the Moon, and among its payload was a 2.6 kg (5.7 lb) mini-biosphere called the Lunar Micro Ecosystem (LME).
The sealed, cylindrical biosphere is only 18 cm (7.1 in) long and 16 cm (6.3 in) in diameter. The LME carried six lifeforms, kept in mostly Earth-like conditions except for micro-gravity and lunar radiation.Continue reading “China’s Lander Successfully Grew Some Cotton Plants on the Moon. Fruit Flies and Potatoes Didn’t Fare So Well”
In anticipation of many Moon landings to come, NASA is testing an autonomous lunar landing system in the Mojave Desert in California. The system is called a “terrain relative navigation system.” It’s being tested on a launch and landing of a Zodiac rocket, built by Masten Space Systems. The test will happen on Wednesday, September 11th.Continue reading “NASA Tests Autonomous Lunar Landing Technology”
The eerie, hellish glow coming from the Moon may seem unreal in this image, since it’s invisible to our eyes. But instruments that detect gamma rays tell us it’s real. More than just a grainy, red picture, it’s a vivid reminder that there’s more going on than meets human eyes.
It’s also a reminder that any humans that visit the Moon need to be protected from this high-energy radiation.Continue reading “When it Comes to Gamma Radiation, the Moon is Actually Brighter Than the Sun”