Astrobotic Technology and Raytheon Collaborate to Pursue Google Lunar X Prize

Astrobotic Technology logo. Credits: Astrobotic Technology

[Astrobotic Press Release - 10.12.2007]
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. has selected Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) as its supplier for development of a next-generation of high-precision, propellant-efficient lunar landing technologies.

On Sept. 13, 2007, Dr. William L. “Red” Whittaker, Astrobotic’s Chief Technology Officer and Lunar Mission Commander declared his intention to pursue the recently announced Google Lunar X Prize. Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is the commercial organization through which Dr. Whittaker plans to carry out the lunar mission as well as engage in potential commercial orbital transfer services and potential cis-lunar services that may be best enabled by leading-edge robotics.

International Team Enters The Google Lunar X Prize Moon Race

InterPlanetary Ventures logo. Credits: InterPlanetary Ventures

[InterPlanetary Ventures Press Release - 10.12.2007]
InterPlanetary Ventures has formed an international team to compete in the Google Lunar X Prize race to the moon, which includes $30,000,000 in prizes for competition winners. The InterPlanetary Ventures team includes working groups in Sweden, India, Sri Lanka and the United States, and individuals in several other countries, promoting international cooperation in space exploration and development.

History Making Moon Mission Unveiled

Oddyssey Moon logo. Credits: Odyssey Moon

[Odyssey Moon Press Release - 06.12.2007]
The first team to complete registration for the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE unveiled its plans today at the Space Investment Summit in San Jose, California. Representatives of Odyssey Moon announced their plans to make history with the first private robotic mission to the surface of the Moon and their intent to win the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. Odyssey Moon’s inaugural mission will involve a unique small robotic lander designed to deliver scientific, exploration and commercial payloads to the surface of the Moon.

SMART-1: Travel maps of the lunar north pole

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

[ESA Press Release - 05.12.2007]
A new map obtained with SMART-1 data shows the geography and illumination of the lunar north pole. Such maps will be of great use for future lunar explorers.

The lunar poles are very interesting for future science and exploration of the Moon mainly because of their exposure to sunlight. They display areas of quasi-eternal light, have a stable thermal environment and are close to dark areas that could host water ice – potential future lunar base sites.

Watch Out for Flying Moondust

Lunar lander touch-down. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 28.11.2007]
NASA is returning to the Moon in the next decade with plans to establish a durable outpost. There will be habitats, rovers, supply depots and mining equipment. Ships will be coming and going, landing and blasting off--and kicking up debris that might fly a lot farther than boulders at Cape Canaveral. Metzger is researching this problem as part of his work at KSC's Granular Mechanics and Surface Systems Lab.

3D movies from Kaguya released

3D image of the Moon surface from Kaguya. Credits: JAXA

[JAXA Press Release - 28.11.2007]
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully demonstrated production of stereo movies (3 dimensional movies) of the Moon surface by using stereoscopic images obtained with the Terrain Camera (TC) onboard KAGUYA on Nov. 3, 2007 (Japan Standard Time, JST). This verification was performed as part of the initial check out of mission instruments onboard "KAGUYA" (SELENE), which was injected into the Moon's orbit at an altitude of about 100 km. These are the first 3-D movies of the Moon including its polar areas with an aerial resolution of 10 meters.

China publishes first moon picture

First image of the Moon from Chang'e-1

[Xinhuanet Press Release - 26.11.2007]
China published the first picture of the moon captured by Chang'e-1 on Monday morning, marking the success of the country's first lunar probe project.

The area covered by the picture, about 460 kilometers in length and 280 km in width, was located within a 54 to 70 degrees south latitude and 57 to 83 degrees east longitude, according to the BACC. The area pictured was part of the moon's highland and was mainly composed of plagioclase, a common rock-forming element. On the surface were craters of different sizes, shapes, structures and ages, the BACC sources said.

South Korea plans to launch moon probe in 2020 in intensifying Asian space race

AP reports that South Korea will launch its own lunar probe in 2020:

"South Korea will launch its first lunar probe in 2020, joining an intensifying Asian space race after recent missions to the moon by China and Japan, the government said Tuesday.

The plan is part of the government's Space Development Roadmap that also aims to put a satellite into orbit on a rocket to be developed from homegrown technology by 2017, the Science and Technology Ministry said.

Kaguya Observation by Terrain Camera and Multi-band Imager

3D image of the Moon surface from Kaguya. Credits: JAXA

[JAXA Press Release - 16.11.2007]
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) carried out an observation using two onboard sensors of Kaguya: the Terrain Camera (TC) and Multi-band Imager (MI,) on November 3, 2007, processed the acquired data, and confirmed they were functioning properly. The observation was part of the initial functional verification of the Kaguya, which had been injected into the Moon's orbit at an altitude of about 100 km. In a global first, both three-dimensional (stereo) observations of the Moon by the TC with a 10-meter aerial resolution and a multi-band observations by the MI with a 20-meter aerial resolution of the Moon's backside and near polar were taken.

India and Russia Sign an Agreement on Chandrayaan-2

ISRO and Roskosmos signing a cooperation agreement. Credits: ISRO

[ISRO Press Release - 14.11.2007]
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) have signed an Agreement on joint lunar research and exploration. Mr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO, and Mr A Perminov, Director, Roskosmos, signed the Agreement in Moscow on November 12, 2007 during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Russia. This cooperation envisages Chandrayaan-2, a joint lunar mission involving a lunar orbiting spacecraft and a Lander/Rover on the Moon’s surface. ISRO will have the prime responsibility for the Orbiter and Roskosmos will be responsible for the Lander/Rover. A few scientific instruments from other space agencies may also be accommodated on these systems. Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) around 2011-12 time frame. This agreement is a major milestone in the long-standing cooperation between India and Russia in the area of outer space.

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