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Crafty Tricks for Finding Moon Water

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 27.03.2008]
Bright gray, crater-pocked mountains taller than Mount McKinley. Abyssal craters that could swallow several Grand Canyons whole.

Recent radar maps of the Moon's southern pole revealed a dramatic, jagged landscape that astronauts could someday call home. But unfortunately, these radar images didn't provide any new information about something that would make living at the lunar pole much easier: frozen water.

NASA Awards Contracts for Design Study of Lunar Landing Craft

Lunar lander touch-down. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 17.03.2008]
NASA's Constellation Program has selected five space-related companies to receive contract awards for a 210-day study to independently evaluate NASA's in-house design concept for a lunar lander that will deliver four astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2020.

The awards total approximately $1.5 million, with a maximum individual award of $350,000. The study recommendations will be used to increase the technical maturity of the existing design in preparation for the development of vehicle requirements.

Shaping the Moonscape: Workers Ready Course for NASA's 15th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

NASA Great Moonbuggy Race logo. Credits: NASA

Each year around this time, John Tripp walks across a lunar surface, pondering the challenges ahead for explorers brave enough to take on its cratered terrain. For now, his "moon" is a winding ribbon of cement footpaths looped around Huntsville's famed U.S. Space and Rocket Center, where Tripp is a construction foreman.

NASA Ames Scientist Selected for Return to Moon Team

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

A scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center is one of 24 researchers selected to join the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission to explore and measure geological features on the moon's surface. Scheduled for launch later this year, the mission represents NASA's first step toward returning humans to the moon.

Ross Beyer, a SETI Institute employee who works at Ames, will join the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team to help develop high-resolution imaging and topography to explore the lunar terrain for future landing sites. Beyer will help plan stereo observations and build topographic models in order to study the geologic history of the moon.

NASA Selects Scientists and Investigations for Robotic Moon Mission

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

NASA has selected 24 scientists to initiate new investigations and assist with planned measurements to be conducted by the agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Scheduled for launch later this year, LRO represents NASA's first step toward returning humans to the moon.

The orbiter will conduct a one-year primary mission exploring the moon, taking measurements to identify future robotic and human landing sites. In addition, it will study lunar resources and how the moon's environment will affect humans. The mission also will involve a spacecraft called the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), which will impact the lunar south pole to search for evidence of polar water frost.

NASA Collaborates with Astronomers in Search for Moon Water

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

In early 2009, astronomers on Earth will point telescopes at the moon looking for water -- and NASA will help them find their target.

NASA experts and professional astronomers are gathering today at NASA's Ames Research Center for the Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, Astronomer Workshop. The workshop's goal is to facilitate collaboration among experts concerning the best techniques to observe the expected debris plume created by the satellite's impacts on the lunar South Pole.

New Radar Maps of the Moon

Radar image of the Lunar south pole. Credits: Cornell University

NASA has obtained new high-resolution radar maps of the Moon's south pole--a region the space agency is considering as a landing site when astronauts return to the Moon in the years ahead.

"We now know the south pole has peaks as high as Mt. McKinley and crater floors four times deeper than the Grand Canyon," says Doug Cooke, deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. "These data will be an invaluable tool for advance planning of lunar missions."

NASA Views Landing Site Through Eyes of Future Moon Crew

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

NASA has obtained the highest resolution terrain mapping to date of the moon's rugged south polar region, with a resolution to 20 meters per pixel. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., collected the data using the facility's Goldstone Solar System Radar located in California's Mojave Desert.
The imagery generated by the data has been incorporated into animation depicting the descent to the lunar surface of a future human lunar lander and a flyover of Shackleton Crater.

NASA Team Demonstrates Robot Technology For Moon Exploration

NASA's new lunar truck prototype. Credits: NASA

During the 3rd Space Exploration Conference Feb. 26-28 in Denver, NASA will exhibit a robot rover equipped with a drill designed to find water and oxygen-rich soil on the moon.

"Resources are the key to sustainable outposts on the moon and Mars," said Bill Larson, deputy manager of the In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) project. "It's too expensive to bring everything from Earth. This is the first step toward understanding the potential for lunar resources and developing the knowledge needed to extract them economically."

NASA Taps Astronomy Community to Help Search for Lunar Water

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

News media are invited to attend a briefing from 12 p.m. to 12:30 noon PST Friday, Feb. 29 in Building 943 at NASA's Ames Research Center about the Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, and the mission's participatory emphasis.

The briefing is part of the LCROSS Astronomer Workshop, which focuses on collaboration among NASA experts and professional astronomers on techniques for observing the debris plume that will be created when LCROSS hits the surface of the moon in early 2009. The objective of the mission is to detect possible water on the moon. Future mission activities will engage the amateur astronomy community, students and the public using ground-based and space-based telescopes.

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