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Next NASA Moon Mission Completes Major Milestone

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 22.12.2008]
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing, which simulates the extreme hot, cold and airless conditions of space LRO will experience after launch. This milestone concludes the orbiter's environmental test program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The orbiter will carry seven instruments to provide scientists with detailed maps of the lunar surface and increase our understanding of the moon's topography, lighting conditions, mineralogical composition and natural resources. Data returned to Earth from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will be used to select safe landing sites, determine locations for future outposts and help mitigate radiation dangers to astronauts. The spacecraft will spend at least a year in a low, polar orbit approximately 30 miles above the lunar surface while the instruments work together to collect detailed information about the moon's environment.

Google Lunar X PRIZE to Announce 'Mystery Team' at NASA Ames

Google Lunar Xprize logo. Credits: Xprize

[NASA Press Release - 11.12.2008]
The X PRIZE Foundation will reveal the identities of a "Mystery Team" competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE during a media briefing hosted at NASA's Ames Research Center on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE is an international competition among privately funded teams to land a robotic craft on the moon. The craft must be capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to Earth.

MoonLite mission gets green light for next step

Artist impression of MoonLITE spacecraft. Credits: BNSC

[BNSC Press Release - 05.12.2008]
A possible UK-led Moon mission involving 'penetrator' darts that would impact into the Moon's surface will be the focus of a technical study to ascertain its feasibility, the British National Space Centre (BNSC) announced today.

Known as MoonLITE (Moon Lightweight Interior and Telecom Experiment), the mission aims to place a satellite in orbit around the Moon and deploy four penetrators to deliver scientific instruments below the surface of the Moon.

NASA To Recognize Winner of Lunar Lander Challenge

X Prize Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Logo. Credits: X Prize

[NASA Press Release - 01.12.2008]
NASA will recognize Armadillo Aerospace, the winner of the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, during a ceremony at 10 a.m. on Dec. 5 at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW, Washington. The winning vehicle successfully demonstrated some of the technologies needed for a lunar lander capable of ferrying payloads or humans back and forth between lunar orbit and the moon's surface.

Chandrayaan-1 starts observations of the Moon

Moon surface imaged by Chandrayaan-1. Credits: ISRO

[ESA Press Release - 24.11.2008]
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 released a probe that impacted close to the lunar south pole on 14 November. Following this, the instruments on the spacecraft are being switched on to get the science observations started.

The Moon Impact Probe was dropped close to Shackleton crater, a place close to the south pole, where ice may exist in areas that are never illuminated by the Sun. It carried three instruments: a video imaging system, a radar altimeter and a mass spectrometer. The imaging system took pictures of the Moon as it approached the surface, the radar was used to determine the altitude, and the mass spectrometer was used to study the thin lunar atmosphere.

Racers Get Ready! NASA's Great Moonbuggy Registration Begins

NASA Great Moonbuggy Race logo. Credits: NASA

Registration is open for NASA's 16th annual Great Moonbuggy Race, taking place April 3-4, 2009, in Huntsville, Ala.

LASER instrument on Chandrayaan-1 successfully turned on

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

[ISRO Press Release - 16.11.2008]
Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI), one of the 11 scientific instruments (payloads) carried by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, has successfully been turned ON today (November 16, 2008). The instrument was switched ON when the spacecraft was passing over western part of the moon’s visible hemisphere. Preliminary assessment of the data from LLRI by ISRO scientists indicates that the instrument’s performance is normal. LLRI sends pulses of infrared laser light towards a strip of lunar surface and detects the reflected portion of that light. With this, the instrument can very accurately measure the height of moon’s surface features. LLRI will be continuously kept ON and takes 10 measurements per second on both day and night sides of the moon. It provides topographical details of both polar and equatorial regions of the moon. Detailed analysis of the data sent by LLRI helps in understanding the internal structure of the moon as well as the way that celestial body evolved.

YLE declaration 2008 released

Lunex logo. Credits: Lunex

[Lunex Press Release - 14.11.2008]
The Young Lunar Explorers (YLE) participating at the LEAG-ICEUM10-SRR conference at Cape Canaveral, Florida, discussed and approved the Young Lunar Explorers Declaration 2008. The YLE declaration presents goals for the near, medium and long term future of lunar exploration, from a perspective of the YLE group. The YLE declaration was included in the LEAG-ICEUM10-SRR conference declaration, approved by the conference attendants on the last day of the conference.

Indian Tricolour Placed on the Moon

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

[ISRO Press Release - 14.11.2008]
In a historic event, the Indian space programme achieved a unique feat today (November 14, 2008) with the placing of Indian tricolour on the Moon’s surface on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday. The Indian flag was painted on the sides of Moon Impact Probe (MIP), one of the 11 payloads of Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, that successfully hit the lunar surface today at 20:31 hrs (8:31 pm) IST. This is the first Indian built object to reach the surface of the moon. The point of MIP’s impact was near the Moon’s South Polar Region. It may be recalled that the modern Indian space programme was initiated in 1962 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of India.

NASA Restores Historic Lunar Orbiter Image

Earth-rise from Lunar Orbiter 1. Credits: NASA/LOIRP

[NASA Press Release - 14.11.2008]
NASA released a newly restored 42-year-old image of Earth on Thursday. The Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft took the iconic photograph of Earth rising above the lunar surface in 1966.
Using refurbished machinery and modern digital technology, NASA produced the image at a much higher resolution than was possible when it was originally taken. The data may help the next generation of explorers as NASA prepares to return to the moon.

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