Trond Krovel's blog

Oresme: Signs from the Lunar Heavy Bombardment

Oresme crater seen from Smart-1. Credits: ESA/Space-X

[ESA Press Release - 18.05.2007]
This image, taken by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows the Oresme crater on the Moon.

AMIE obtained this picture on 30 August 2006 - only 4 days before SMART-1’s final impact on the lunar surface. It was taken from a distance of 1 100 kilometres over the surface, with a ground resolution of 110 metres per pixel.

9th ILEWG Lunar Conference, Sorrento, Italy, 22-26 Oct 2007

[ICEUM9/ILC2007 Call for Abstracts - 08.05.2007]
Dear Lunar and Space Explorer,

Please find herewith the Announcement and Call for Abstracts for the 9th ILEWG International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM9/ILC2007), to take place on 22-26 October 2007, Sorrento (near Naples), Italy.

Abstracts, early registration and requests for support are due on 15 June 2007. Please circulate this announcement to your interested colleagues.

NASA to build new stand to test Ares rocket engines

A concept drawing of the J-2X rocket engine. Credits: NASA

[08.05.2007 - NASA Press Release]
NASA will test one of the rocket engines it is developing for its new launch vehicles at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The agency will build a new test stand at Stennis for the J-2X engine. The engine will power the upper stages of NASA's Ares I and Ares V rockets.

Stennis already is home to Apollo-era test stands that have served the nation's space program through the shuttle era. The newly proposed structure will be the first large test stand built at the center since the 1960s. Unlike the older structures, the new 300-foot-tall, open-frame design will allow engineers to simulate conditions at different altitudes.

NASA Awards Heat Shield Material Contracts for Orion Spacecraft

Thermal protection system (TPS) material coupon undergoing test at 1000 W/cm^2. Credits: NASA

[04.05.2007 - NASA Press Release]
NASA has selected The Boeing Company, Huntington Beach, Calif., and Textron Systems, Wilmington, Mass., to develop alternate heat shield materials for the Orion crew exploration spacecraft.

The two contracts for Alternate Block 2 Thermal Protection System
(TPS) Materials and Heat Shield Systems Advanced Development will support development and testing of three alternative heat shield materials, designs and manufacturing processes. Under the contracts, the companies will work to ensure the technologies are mature enough to become viable backups if there are difficulties with the primary material.

NASA's Centennial Challenge to Excavate Moon Dirt Set for May 12

Artist impression of a regolith exavator. Credits: NASA

[04.05.2007 - NASA Press Release]
On Saturday, May 12, teams from around the nation will compete for a total of $250,000 from NASA for an autonomously operating system to excavate simulated "lunar regolith," or the moon's soil. The Regolith Excavation Challenge, one of NASA's seven Centennial Challenges, will take place at the Santa Maria Fairpark, Santa Maria, Calif. The competition on May 12 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

NASA rejects Russian Moon cooperation

The Apollo-Soyuz mission patch. Credits: NASA

BBC reports that the US has rejected a Moscow proposal that the two countries join forces to explore the Moon. "We were ready to co-operate, but for unknown reasons, the United States have said they will undertake this programme themselves," Anatoly Perminov said.

US space agency NASA has said it plans to start work on a base on the Moon when astronauts return there in 2020. NASA has not commented on Mr Perminov's statement, reported by Interfax news. NASA and Russia's federal space agency Roskosmos have experience of working together on the International Space Station (ISS).

Shield for the Starship enterprise: A reality?

An artificial magnetosphere generated around manned space craft en route to the Moon. Credits: RAS

[18.04.07 - RAS Press Release]
In the last year space agencies in the United States, Europe, China, Japan and India have announced their intention to resume human exploration of the Solar system, beginning with the Moon and perhaps ultimately moving on to Mars. But travel beyond the immediate vicinity of the Earth carries significant risks for astronauts, not the least of which is the exposure to sometimes high levels of radiation. Now a team of scientists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory are set to construct an experimental magnetic shield that would protect explorers in their journeys between the planets. Dr Ruth Bamford will present this idea in her talk on Wednesday 18 April at the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting in Preston.

UK tests Moon lander technology

Soft lander proposal from EADS Astrium. Credits: EADS Astrium

BBC reports that British engineers are designing a Moon landing mission that would also test key technologies to take to Mars. The MoonTwins concept would put two probes on the lunar surface - one at each pole - to do science experiments. The work is being undertaken by the aerospace company Astrium at the request of the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA plans eventually to go to the Red Planet to retrieve rocks for analysis on Earth, and the Moon is seen as a good place to develop the know-how.

Engineers unveil China moon rover

A lunar rover proposal from the Shanghai Spaceflight Agency and others. Credits: China Daily

BBC reports that Chinese scientists have shown off a prototype Moon rover that could lead to the country's first unmanned mission to the lunar surface in 2012. The 1.5m (5ft) high, 200kg (440lbs) rover should transmit video in real time, dig into and analyse soil, and produce 3D images of the lunar surface.

Engineers have unveiled a prototype at the Shanghai institute where work on the six-wheeled vehicle is underway. Rival rovers are being developed at institutes in Beijing and elsewhere. It is not clear when the successful candidate will be selected.

Science vs. Exploration: A Piggyback Solution?

Lunex honorary board member Harrison Schmitt on the surface of the Moon. Credits: NASA

[Astrobiology Magazine - 29.03.2007]
Which is a better investment, science or exploration? The question is almost as old as the space program itself, and answering it won’t get any easier as humans move toward establishing a lunar base. But could science be an inevitable outgrowth of exploration? The exploration needed to occupy the moon will give us plenty of opportunities for basic lunar science. As the drive to explore and colonize the moon switches into high gear, some scientists worry that funding exploration could drain resources away from pure science.

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