Posted tagged ‘moon’

Mars, Not The Moon, For NASA

February 3, 2010

Although NASA’s attempt to return a manned mission to the moon at this point is cancelled due to a reduced budget, NASA’s Charlie Bolden announced that they are looking beyond the moon to Mars.  Proposed NASA budgets provide  for robotic exploration of the moon, Mars, and nearby asteroids.  Bolden pointed out that such missions are necessary precursors to any manned exploration.

Significant Amounts of Water Found on Moon

November 13, 2009
[picapp src=”c/a/3/8/Moon_viewed_from_4c66.jpg?adImageId=7114716&imageId=5128843″ width=”234″ height=”180″ /]

The LCROSS impact last month uncovered what NASA states is a significant amount of water on the moon.  The impact itself uncovered approximately 25 gallons of visible water.  The water was viewed in two ways.  The first method used the near-infrared spectrometer on LCROSS.  The second used the ultraviolet spectrometer on LCROSS.  This discovery could fuel a resurgance of interest in the moon.  The discovery of water also increases the ease of a setting up a permanent base on the moon.  For more information, see Wired.

LCROSS Captured Lunar Plume

October 19, 2009
Image Credit:  NASA

Plume is circled in red. Image Credit: NASA

While at first it was thought that no debris plume was created by the LCROSS impact on October 9, the first images of that plume have been released by NASA taken by LCROSS.  The plume was approximately 1 mile high and the crater created by the impact is approximately 17 miles across.  Before the actual impact, NASA had estimated that the plume would be 6 miles high.  For more information, see ScienceNews.

Water Found on Mars & Moon

September 25, 2009

In this image blue shows the signature of water, green shows the brightness of the surface as measured by reflected infrared radiation from the sun and red shows an iron-bearing mineral called pyroxene. Image Credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS

Two different missions have found evidence of water on the moon and on Mars.  These findings may make it easier for future human colonies at both locations.  NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, an instrument aboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 mission, detected small amounts of water on the surface of the moon.

Water ice surrounds this impact crater on Marsin this HiRISE picture, taken in November 2008.  Image credit:  NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Ariz

Water ice surrounds this impact crater on Mars in this HiRISE picture, taken in November 2008. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Univ. of Ariz

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was able to find 99% pure water ice on the surface of Mars far away from the poles.  This ice suggests that there are huge subsurface ice sheets on Mars extending from the poles halfway to the equator.  The ice was spotted in debris from five recent meteorite strikes in the northern hemisphere of Mars.   It took approximately 200 days to melt, which points to the water’s purity.   For more information on these discoveries, see The Space Shot on CNet News.

LRO Sheds Light On The Moon

September 23, 2009
Daytime and nighttime temperature observations of the lunar south pole recorded by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL/UCLA

Daytime and nighttime temperature observations of the lunar south pole recorded by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL/UCLA

After months of calibration, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is providing lots of interesting new insights into the moon.  Scientists had expected that the permanently shadowed craters would hold signs of hydrogen, a indicator of ice deposits.  In a surprise, the LRO has found evidence of hydrogen both inside & outside the craters with some craters having no hydrogen at all.

The LRO also found that these permanently shadowed craters are the coldest places in the solar systems.  Readings show that temperatures in these craters never rise above 33 kelvin or minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  For more information, see the NASA website.

NASA & the Future of Human Space Flight

September 10, 2009
Image credit:  NASA

Image credit: NASA

The White House panel of independent space experts released their recommendations this week.  According to the panel, NASA’s plans for returning to the moon as a means of preparing for journeying to Mars simply will not work.  The reason is simple:  money.  NASA needs to spend approximately $3 billion more per year to achieve human spaceflight.

The panel gave President Obama several options concerning a variety of issues for NASA.  In 2004, President George W. Bush proposed returning to the moon by 2020.  To pay for returning to the moon, he planned on retiring the shuttle in 2010 and shutting down the International Space Station in 2015.  These deadlines are unworkable, according to the panel

All those deadlines have to change, the panel said. It proposed continuing to use the shuttle until 2011.  It also termed shutting down the ISS “unwise” and argued its life should be extended.  The panel also strongly encouraged including other countries and private for-profit firms in further space exploration.  The panel also emphasized exploring easier to reach near-Earth objects such as asteroids or the moons of Mars before returning to the moon.  For more information on the panel’s report, see ScienceNews.

Chandrayaan-1 Satellite Abandoned

August 31, 2009

moonIndia’s space agency lost communications with its Chandrayaan-1 satellite on Saturday and decided on Monday to abandon it as lost.  Chandrayaan-1 was India’s only satellite orbiting the moon.  The satellite had been orbit nearly a year.  Its mission was to compile 3-D maps of the moon’s surface and to study the chemical composition of the moon, looking for traces of water ice.  While the original mission was to last 2 years, officials said that 95% of the mission had already been completed.  For more information, see CNN.