Trond Krovel's blog

NASA Names Interim Lunar Science Institute Director

David Morrison has been appointed interim director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute, based at the Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., effective immediately. A nationwide search for a permanent director is under way.

A world-renowned planetary scientist, Morrison currently serves as senior scientist at the Ames-based NASA Astrobiology Institute. The Lunar Science Institute will be modeled after the Astrobiology Institute, with teams across the nation working together to help lead the agency's research activities related to NASA's exploration goals.

Students Gear Up For NASA's Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

The Apollo 17 rover on the surface of the Moon. Credits: NASA

NASA is looking for a fast set of wheels. The 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race is set for April 4-5. During the race, dozens of high school and college teams careen around a track at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. They pilot wheeled rovers of their own design, and perhaps launch their future as the next generation of lunar explorers.

NASA's Quest to Find Water on the Moon Moves Closer to Launch

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 14.01.2008]
Cameras and sensors that will look for the presence of water on the moon have completed validation tests and been shipped to the manufacturer of NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.

The science instruments for the satellite, which is known as LCROSS, departed NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field Calif., for the Northrop Grumman Corporation's facility in Redondo Beach, Calif. to be integrated with the spacecraft. A video file is available on NASA Television. LCROSS is scheduled to launch with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., by the end of 2008.

NASA's Next Moon Mission Spacecraft Undergoing Critical Tests

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 14.01.2008]
NASA's next mission to Earth's closest astronomical body is in the midst of integration and testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, known as LRO, will spend at least a year mapping the surface of the moon. Data from the orbiter will help NASA select safe landing sites for astronauts, identify lunar resources and study how the moon's environment will affect humans.

Europe’s next ride to the Moon: Chandrayaan-1

Chandrayaan-1 in orbit around the Moon. Credits: ISRO

[EAS Press Release - 11.01.2008]
Excitement is rising as ESA is in the final stages of preparation for the first collaborative space mission with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Chandrayaan-1 will study the Moon in great detail and be the first Indian scientific mission leaving the Earth’s vicinity.

Europe is supplying three instruments for the mission.
The Moon retains its fascination for planetary scientists and presents many mysteries still ripe for investigation. Chandrayaan, which means ‘journey to the Moon’ in Hindi, will study the Moon at many wavelengths from X-rays, visible, and near infrared to microwaves during its mission. It will orbit the moon in a circular path, just 100 km above the lunar surface.

Kaguya transition to operation phase

Kaguya in orbit around the Moon. Credits: Akihiro Ikeshita/JAXA

[JAXA Press Release - 21.12.2007]
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is pleased to announce that the operation phase of the lunar explorer, KAGUYA (SELENE), was transitioned to normal operations from its initial check out on December 21 (Japan Standard Time, all the following dates and time are JST), 2007 as we were able to acquire satisfactory verification results for all fifteen observation missions. The results are shown in the following chart.

Lighting up the Lunar Night with Fuel Cells

Illustration of a solar array and regenerative fuel cell on the moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 12.12.2007]
How do you survive in a remote, mountainous region that has no water or wind and sometimes goes without sunlight for weeks?

This is not the premise for a survivalist reality show; it's a question NASA must answer before sending humans to live and work on the moon.

Within the next twenty years, people again will explore the vast lunar terrain. This time, we're going to build a permanent outpost where we will conduct scientific research, learn to live off the land, and test new technologies for future missions to Mars and beyond.

Earth's magnetic field could help protect astronauts working on the moon

[University of Wasington Press Release - 12.12.07]
It has been 35 years since humans last walked on the moon, but there has been much recent discussion about returning, either for exploration or to stage a mission to Mars. However, there are concerns about potential radiation danger for astronauts during long missions on the lunar surface.

A significant part of that danger results from solar storms, which can shoot particles from the sun to Earth at nearly the speed of light and can heat oxygen in the Earth's ionosphere and send it in a hazardous stream toward the moon.

New NASA Mission to Reveal Moon's Internal Structure and Evolution

[NASA Press Release - 11.12.07]At a Monday meeting of the American Geophysical Union, NASA's Associate Administrator for Science Alan Stern announced the selection of a new mission that will peer deep inside the moon to reveal its anatomy and history.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission is a part of NASA's Discovery Program. It will cost $375 million and is scheduled to launch in 2011. GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

Astrobotic Technology and Raytheon Collaborate to Pursue Google Lunar X Prize

Astrobotic Technology logo. Credits: Astrobotic Technology

[Astrobotic Press Release - 10.12.2007]
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. has selected Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) as its supplier for development of a next-generation of high-precision, propellant-efficient lunar landing technologies.

On Sept. 13, 2007, Dr. William L. “Red” Whittaker, Astrobotic’s Chief Technology Officer and Lunar Mission Commander declared his intention to pursue the recently announced Google Lunar X Prize. Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is the commercial organization through which Dr. Whittaker plans to carry out the lunar mission as well as engage in potential commercial orbital transfer services and potential cis-lunar services that may be best enabled by leading-edge robotics.

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