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Lunar Mapping

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NASA Lunar Spacecraft Complete Prime Mission Ahead of Schedule

An artist’s depiction of the twin spacecraft (Ebb and Flow) that comprise NASA’s GRAIL mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT

[NASA Press Release - 29.05.2012]A NASA mission to study the moon from crust to core has completed its prime mission earlier than expected. The mission team of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, with twin probes named Ebb and Flow, is now preparing for extended science operations starting Aug. 30 and continuing through Dec. 3, 2012.

NASA's LCROSS Impacts Confirm Water in Lunar Crater

LCROSS before impact. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 13.11.2009]
Preliminary data from NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater.
The discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon.

The LCROSS spacecraft and a companion rocket stage made twin impacts in the Cabeus crater Oct. 9 that created a plume of material from the bottom of a crater that has not seen sunlight in billions of years.

NASA Instruments Reveal Water Molecules on Lunar Surface

Chandrayaan-1 image of water on the Moon surface. Credits: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS/Brown Univ

[NASA Press Release - 24.09.2009]
NASA scientists have discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the moon. Instruments aboard three separate spacecraft revealed water molecules in amounts that are greater than predicted, but still relatively small. Hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, also was found in the lunar soil. The findings were published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

Lunar South Pole - Out of the Shadows

Moon south pole seen from LRO. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 16.09.2009]
During the LRO Commissioning Phase, the high-resolution Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) captured this 1-m pixel scale (angular resolution) two-image mosaic of the lunar south pole, which is located on the rim of the 19-km diameter Shackleton crater. At meter scales features such as boulders and ridges can be mapped, paving the way for future explorers. Right now we know little of the poles and much is to be learned from the data now being returned from LRO. The rim of Shackleton crater is a prime candidate for future human exploration due to its proximity to permanently shadowed regions and nearby peaks that are illuminated for much of the year. The permanent shadow may harbor cold-trapped volatiles deposited as comets and asteroids impacted the Moon over the past billion years or more. Highly illuminated peaks provide opportunities for solar power during most of the year for future human habitation.

Hi-Res Radar Image of the Lunar South Pole

SMART-1 mosaic of the lunar south pole. Credits: ESA/Space-X

[NAIC Press Release - 02.07.2009]
A high-resolution S-band (12.6 cm wavelength) radar view of the lunar south pole, obtained using the NAIC Arecibo Observatory and the NRAO Green Bank Telescope (GBT), is now available for download. These data were acquired in 2005 and have a single-look spatial resolution of 20 m per pixel. The WEB site where the images can be obtained is http://arecibo.tc.cornell.edu/lunarimages/default.aspx

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.

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.

Germany's CESAR crowned king of rovers in ESA’s Robotics Challenge

[ESA Press Release - 04.11.2008]
A robot rover designed by a Bremen university team has won an ESA contest to retrieve soil samples from a lunar-style terrestrial crater. Eight student teams fielded rovers during the event, their progress monitored by an advanced 3-D viewer already flight-tested in space and planned for eventual deployment on the Moon.

Craters surrounding the Moon's poles are a top 21st Century science target. Lunar researchers believe these craters may be 'cold traps', preserving ancient water ice deposits. Such ice would not only be an invaluable time capsule, it would also support manned lunar settlements. But the only way to verify the ice is there is to go fetch it, which is where rovers come in.

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.

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.

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