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”
When SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander crashed into the Moon, it was a bitter-sweet moment for Israel’s space exploration aspirations. The privately-built spacecraft was punching above its weight class by proceeding on its journey to the Moon. Unfortunately, it crashed, ending the dream.
But Beresheet carried some unusual passengers, as part of an unusual, yet visionary, sub-mission: tardigrades.Continue reading “Hardy Tardigrades on Board Israel’s Beresheet Lander Probably Survived the Crash”
The most comprehensive and widely-held theory of how the Moon formed is called the ‘giant impact hypothesis.’ That hypothesis shows that about 150 million years after the Solar System formed, a roughly Mars-sized planet named Theia collided with Earth. Though the timeline is hotly-debated in the scientific community, we know that this collision melted Theia and some of Earth, and that molten rock orbited around Earth until it coalesced into the Moon.
But now a new study, though not contradicting the giant impact hypothesis, is suggesting a different timeline, and an older Moon.Continue reading “The Moon is Older Than Scientists Thought”
JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is teaming up with the nation’s largest company to build a lunar rover. Toyota, the second largest automobile company in the world (only Volkswagen makes more cars) has signed a development deal with JAXA that will last three years. The goal? To design, build, test and evaluate prototypes for a pressurized, crewed lunar vehicle that runs on fuel-cells.Continue reading “Toyota is Building a Pressurized Lunar Rover for Japan”
ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) has successfully launched their Chandrayaan-2 mission to the Moon. The mission, which includes an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was launched into space on a GSLV Mk III rocket on July 22nd, after a week-long delay. On September 7th it will perform a soft-landing on the Moon.Continue reading “India’s Chandrayaan-2 is Heading to the Moon”