Blogs

NASA Selects Teams for Moon Impact Observation Campaig

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 02.02.2009]
NASA has selected four teams to observe the impact of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, with the lunar surface during the mission's search for water ice on the moon.

The LCROSS mission is a small companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in spring 2009. Instruments aboard the satellite are designed to search for evidence of water ice on the moon as the spacecraft collides with a permanently shadowed crater near one of the moon's poles. The resulting debris plumes are expected to be visible from Earth with telescopes 10-to-12 inches in diameter or larger.

NASA Seeks Concept Proposals for Future Moon Lander

Lunar lander touch-down. Credits: NASA

NASA Press Release - 28.01.2009]
On Wednesday, NASA issued a request for proposals for concept definition and requirements analysis support for the Altair lunar lander. Proposals are due to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston by 2 p.m. CST on Feb. 27.

NASA's Constellation Program will use Altair to land four astronauts on the moon following launch aboard an Ares V rocket and rendezvous in low Earth orbit with the Orion crew vehicle. The lunar lander will provide the astronauts with life support and a base for weeklong initial surface exploration missions of the moon. Altair also will return the crew to the Orion spacecraft that will return them home to Earth.

NASA Invites Media to View Lunar Rover Driven at Inaugural Parade

NASA's Lunar Electric Rover. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 15.01.2009]
Reporters are invited to attend a briefing about the NASA Lunar Electric Rover concept vehicle that will be driven down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington as part of the presidential inaugural parade on Jan. 20. The rover is part of a new generation of prototype vehicles that NASA is evaluating for use when astronauts return to the moon in 2020.

The briefing will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E Street, SW, on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 1:30 p.m. EST. After the briefing, NASA officials will escort participants to the vehicle and demonstrate some of the rover's capabilities for reporters.

NASA Tests Engine Technology for Landing Astronauts on the Moon

The Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE). Credits: Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

[NASA Press Release - 14.01.2009]
A technology development engine that may help NASA safely return astronauts to the lunar surface has successfully completed its third round of testing. The goal of these tests is to reduce risk and advance technology for a reliable and robust rocket engine that could enable America's next moon landing.

The tests by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in West Palm Beach, Fla., helped gather data on this concept engine that might play a role in the next stage of human exploration of the moon. Most rockets make spacecraft travel faster. The goal of a lunar lander descent engine is to slow the vehicle so astronauts can land safely.

CU-Boulder Selected for Two Lunar Research Grants Totaling $11 Million

Artist impression of a moon telescope. Credits: NASA

[CU-Boulder Press Release - 09.01.2009
The University of Colorado at Boulder was awarded two grants totaling $11 million today from NASA's Lunar Science Institute to probe the cosmos from observatories on the moon and to conduct science and safety investigations on the dusty lunar surface and its atmosphere.

The two CU-Boulder grants from the Lunar Science Institute, which was created by NASA in March 2008, are expected to further the space agency's research agenda regarding future moon missions, a key part of NASA's space exploration goals. A total of seven grants were made nationwide to interdisciplinary science teams by the institute, which is managed by the NASA Ames Research Center in California.

NASA Selects CU-Boulder to Build $6 Million Lunar Dust Detector to Orbit Moon in 2012

LADEE model. Credits: NASA

[CU-Boulder Press Release - 09.01.2009]
The University of Colorado at Boulder has been awarded a $6 million grant from NASA to build a high-tech lunar dust detector for a 2011 mission to orbit the moon and conduct science investigations of the dusty lunar surface and its atmosphere.

Known as the Lunar Dust Experiment, or LDEX, the instrument will be designed and built at CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The instrument will fly on the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Experiment Explorer mission, or LADEE, an orbiting satellite that will assess the lunar atmosphere and the nature of dust lofted above the moon's surface.

NASA Selects Research Teams for Lunar Science Institute

NASA Lunar Science Institute. Credits: NASA

NASA has selected seven academic and research teams as initial members of the agency's Lunar Science Institute.

The institute supports scientific research to supplement and extend existing NASA lunar science programs in coordination with U.S. space exploration policy. The selection of the members encompasses academic institutions, non-profit research institutes, private companies, NASA centers and other government laboratories. Selections were based on a competitive evaluation process that began with the release of a cooperative agreement notice in June 2008. The next solicitation opportunity for new members will take place in approximately two years.

Sixteen Tons of Moondust

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

[NASA Press Release - 07.01.2008]
If you listen closely, you might hear a NASA project manager singing this song. Lately, Marshall Space Flight Center's Carol McClemore has been working at the end of a sledge hammer opposite a big pile of rocks, so she has good reason to sing the song Tennessee Ernie Ford made famous.

"I call it 'choppin' rocks,' " says McClemore, who manages Marshall's Regolith Simulant Team." The guys keep correcting me. 'It's 'bustin' rocks, Carole,' they say."

Four Out of Six Apollos

Apollo 17 lander on the Moon. Credits: NASA

[JPL Press Release - 23.12.2008]
Their names are now part of exploration history – Sea of Tranquility, Ocean of Storms, Frau Mauro, Hadley Rille, Descartes and Taurus-Littrow. They are the sites on the lunar surface visited by America's Apollo astronauts. Six unique locations. each with its own unique set of challenges to those who wanted to explore its secrets.

"To paraphrase an old bromide, those who forget the past are doomed to land like it," said Chirold Epp of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "Having looked at the Apollo landings I have come to two conclusions. One – those crews did a great job. Two – data from several of the landings support the idea that we must give future moon landers more information to increase the probability of mission success."

To Go Where No Spacecraft Has Gone Before

Astronauts and Lander on the surface of the Moon. Credits: NASA

[JPL Press Release - 23.12.2008]
Scattered loosely around the beltline of Earth's nearest neighbor are six silent sentinels, testaments to America's first moon program. Standing all of 10 feet high and 30 feet wide (from footpad to footpad), each of these lunar module descent stages is more than a historical artifact that powered two Apollo astronauts to a safe landing on the moon's surface. They are unearthly reminders of the challenges that future moon crews will encounter on their final approach to the unknown.

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