The far side of the moon has been getting more popular than a Pink Floyd album lately. A variety of missions are planned to visit the previously overlooked side opposite Earth. Recently NASA announced a few more, including two landers which will measure properties of the Moon’s interior.Continue reading “NASA is Finally Sending a Lunar Lander to the Moon’s far Side”
The first pictures from a Chinese probe on the surface of Mars were released May 19, sparking a plea from NASA’s recently appointed chief for more funding to keep America in the lead on the space frontier.
China’s Zhurong rover, which landed on the Red Planet on May 14, sent back pictures as it sat atop its landing platform on the flat plain of Utopia Planitia. One picture provides a rover’s-eye view of the ramp that the six-wheeled robot will use to roll down onto the surface.
The probe also sent back video clips that were captured by China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter during the lander’s separation.Continue reading “Pictures From China’s Mars Rover Fuel NASA Chief’s Funding Pitch to Congress”
In the coming years, NASA will be sending astronauts to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo Era. This time, and as part of the Artemis Program, NASA also plans to build the necessary infrastructure to establish a sustained human presence on the Moon and eventually missions to Mars – including the Artemis Base Camp and the orbiting Lunar Gateway.
They’ll be getting some new equipment, such as the exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unity (xEMU) spacesuit and a fancy new lunar lander. Of course, as the Artemis astronauts will also have to deal with the same hazards as their predecessors – not the least of which is lunar dust (or regolith). Luckily, NASA is investigating a possible solution in the form of a handheld electron/ultraviolet (UV) device that could mitigate this hazard.Continue reading “Astronauts Could Dust off Themselves and Equipment on the Moon With an Electron Beam”
In less than three years, astronauts will return to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo Era. As part of the Artemis Program, the purpose is not only to send crewed missions back to the lunar surface to explore and collect samples. This time around, there’s also the goal of establishing vital infrastructure (like the Lunar Gateway and a Base Camp) that will allow for “sustained lunar exploration.”
A key requirement for this ambitious plan is the provision of power, which can be difficult in regions like the South Pole-Aitken Basin – a cratered region that is permanently-shadowed. To address this, a researcher from the NASA Langley Research Center named Charles Taylor has proposed a novel concept known as “Light Bender.” Using telescope optics, this system would to capture and distribute sunlight on the Moon.Continue reading “Exploring the Moon’s Shadowed Regions Using Beamed Energy”
It sounds like science fiction, but building an enormous tower several kilometers high on the Lunar surface may be the best way to harness solar energy for long-term Lunar exploration. Such towers would raise solar panels above obstructing geological features on the Lunar surface, and expand the surface area available for power generation.Continue reading “How do you get Power into Your Lunar Base? With a Tower of Concrete Several Kilometers High”
Regions of the Moon known as irregular mare patches – formed by magma cooling from a volcanic eruption – have almost no big craters, indicating that they must be relatively young. By studying the distribution of craters within them, we can estimate when these regions were formed: no more than 100 million years ago.Continue reading “The Most Recent Volcanic Activity on the Moon? Just 100 Million Years ago”
The University of Colorado Boulder and Lunar Resources Inc. have just won NASA funding to study the possibility of building a radio telescope on the far side of the Moon. The project, called FarView, would harvest building materials from the Lunar surface itself, and use robotic rovers to construct a massive, intricate network of wires and antennas across 400 square kilometers. When complete, FarView would allow radio astronomers to observe the sky in low-frequency radio wavelengths with unprecedented clarity.Continue reading “NASA is Considering a Radio Telescope on the Far Side of the Moon”
China’s proposed next-generation rocket reached the final stage of feasibility studies this month. The planned launch vehicle, known as the Long March-9, will be capable of sending 100 tons to the Moon, and could see its first launch as early as 2030.
Announced in 2018, the Long March-9 will play a key role in China’s long-term space ambitions. If all goes as planned, its first payload is likely to be a Martian sample return mission, and it would support China’s Lunar ambitions as well. Another proposed use for the super-heavy lift vehicle is to build an experimental space-based solar power station, although plans for that project are still very tentative.Continue reading “China’s Super-Heavy Lift Rocket Will Carry 100 Tons to the Moon”
One of the oldest, deepest, and largest impact craters on the Moon provides a window into the history and makeup of our celestial companion, and needs to be studied in more detail, says a team of lunar scientists. The South Pole-Aitken Basin on the Moon formed from a gigantic impact about 4.3 billion years ago. Scientists say a more detailed analysis of this area will help refine the timeline of events in the Moon’s development, as well as help explain the dramatic differences between the lunar nearside and farside.Continue reading “The Largest Crater on the Moon Reveals Secrets About its Early History”
There’s no doubt that the Moon has water on its surface. Orbiters have spotted deposits of ice persisting in the perpetual shadows of polar craters. And recent research shows that water exists in sunlit parts of the Moon, too.
Over the years, scientists have presented evidence that the Moon’s water came from comets, from asteroids, from inside the Moon, and even from the Sun.
But now new research is pointing the finger directly at Earth as the source of some of the Moon’s water.Continue reading “The Earth’s Magnetosphere Might be Creating Water on the Moon”