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Lunar Science

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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."

NASA Lunar Science Institute Names First International Partner

NASA Lunar Science Institute. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 30.07.2008]
NASA's Lunar Science Institute at Moffett Field, Calif., has announced its first international affiliate partner for conducting lunar science activities. Canada's University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, will represent the Canadian lunar science community as part of the newly established Canadian Network for Lunar Science and Exploration.

"We are tremendously excited about this partnership," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "With the large number of U.S. and international missions focused on the moon, this is absolutely the right step forward."

Brown-Led Team Finds Evidence of Water in Moon’s Interior

Lunar volcanic glasses containing water. Credits: NASA

[Brown University Press Release - 09.07.2008]
A Brown University-led research team has for the first time discovered evidence of water that came from deep within the Moon, a revelation that strongly suggests water has been a part of the Moon since its early existence – and perhaps ever since it was created by a cataclysmic collision between the early Earth and a Mars-sized object about 4.5 billion years ago.

A Telescope Made of Moondust

Artist impression of a moon telescope. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 09.07.2008]
A gigantic telescope on the Moon has been a dream of astronomers since the dawn of the space age. A lunar telescope the same size as Hubble (2.4 meters across) would be a major astronomical research tool. One as big as the largest telescope on Earth—10.4 meters across—would see far more than any Earth-based telescope because the Moon has no atmosphere. But why stop there? In the Moon's weak gravity, it might be possible to build a telescope with a mirror as large as 50 meters across, half the length of a football field—big enough to analyze the chemistry on planets around other stars for signs of life.

NASA Scientists Pioneer Method for Making Giant Lunar Telescopes

[NASA Press Release - 04.06.2008]
Scientists working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., have concocted an innovative recipe for giant telescope mirrors on the Moon. To make a mirror that dwarfs anything on Earth, just take a little bit of carbon, throw in some epoxy, and add lots of lunar dust.

"We could make huge telescopes on the moon relatively easily, and avoid the large expense of transporting a large mirror from Earth," says Peter Chen of NASA Goddard and the Catholic University of America, which is located in Washington, D.C. "Since most of the materials are already there in the form of dust, you don’t have to bring very much stuff with you, and that saves a ton of money."

Human space exploration in the future

Artist impression of Moonbase. Credits: ESA

[ESA Vodcast - 30.05.2008]
To land on the Moon and on Mars, scientists need a mix of human and robotic missions to know in advance what challenges must be met. A video report from the Berlin International Airshow's Space Pavilion on the future of human exploration in space.

In February 2008, the Agency's long-awaited Columbus science lab was successfully delivered to the International Space Station, and on 3 April, the first Automated Transfer Vehicle - the Jules Verne - made a spectacular automated docking to the Russian ISS module, establishing ESA as a full partner in ISS operations.

Proposal opportunity: NASA Lunar Science Institute

NASA Lunar Science Institute. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 29.05.2008]
On June 2, 2008, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate (SMD), in cooperation with the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD), is releasing a Cooperative Agreement Notice (NNH08ZDA008C) soliciting proposals for the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI). Proposers will be required to clearly articulate an innovative, interdisciplinary, lunar research program, together with plans to advance the full scope of NLSI objectives as defined in the Institute’s Mission Statement (see NLSI website at http://lunarscience.arc.nasa.gov/about#mission ). Proposals may address science of the Moon, on the Moon, and from the Moon, including objectives that meet NASA’s future lunar exploration needs. NASA anticipates making $8-10M per year available for this selection, leading to 5 to 7 awards at least one of which will be focused on exploration objectives. Awards will be for 4 years duration.

Exhaling for Exploration: Scientists Test Lunar Breathing System

CAMRAS volunteers. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 08.05.2008]
Imagine yourself hip-to-hip, shoulder-to-shoulder, inside a room the size of a walk-in closet for eight hours with five people you just met. Does that make you sweat? Or maybe make your breathing a little more animated?

For three weeks, 23 volunteers dedicated time to do just that -- sweat and breathe -- inside a test chamber so NASA scientists at Johnson Space Center in Houston could measure the amount of moisture and carbon dioxide absorbed by a new system being developed for future space vehicles. The system is designed to control carbon dioxide and humidity inside a crew capsule to make air breathable and living space more comfortable.

The Moon and the Magnetotail

The magnetosphere and the magnetotail around Earth. Credits: NASA

[NASA Science Feature - 17.04.2008]
Behold the full Moon. Ancient craters and frozen lava seas lie motionless under an airless sky of profound quiet. It's a slow-motion world where even a human footprint may last millions of years. Nothing ever seems to happen there.

Right?

Wrong. NASA-supported scientists have realized that something does happen every month when the Moon gets a lashing from Earth's magnetic tail.

NASA Lunar Science Institute Opens Today

[NASA Press Release - 11.04.2008]
Thirty-eight years ago, NASA launched the Apollo 13 mission to the moon. Today, NASA launches the new Lunar Science Institute to lead the agency's research activities for future missions to the moon related to NASA's exploration goals.

Managed by NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., the NASA Lunar Science Institute is modeled after the successful NASA Astrobiology Institute, also managed by Ames, and features teams of scientists across the country collaborating in lunar science and future lunar exploration.

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