Blogs

Dreamy Lunar Eclipse

Total lunar eclipse. Credits: Antonio Finazzi and Michele Festa

[NASA Press Release - 03.08.2007]
August 3, 2007: Close your eyes, breath deeply, let your mind wander to a distant seashore: It's late in the day, and the western sun is sinking into the glittering waves. At your feet, damp sand reflects the twilight, while overhead, the deep blue sky fades into a cloudy mélange of sunset copper and gold, so vivid it almost takes your breath away.

A breeze touches the back of your neck, and you turn to see a pale full Moon rising into the night. Hmmm. The Moon could use a dash more color. You reach out, grab a handful of sunset, and drape the Moon with phantasmic light. Much better.

Moon shows sparks by passing gas

Moon Gas

[MSNBC - 30.07.2007]
Changes in the brightness and color over small areas of the moon's surface, known as Transient Lunar Phenomena have been observed telescopically for hundreds of years.

The optical flashes have been seen by skywatchers but rarely photographed.

"People over the years have attributed TLPs to all sorts of effects: turbulence in Earth's atmosphere, visual physiological effects, atmospheric smearing of light like a prism, and even psychological effects like hysteria or planted suggestion," said Columbia University researcher Arlin Crotts.

NASA Robots Practice Moon Survey in the Arctic Circle

The two rovers from NASA Ames used at the Haughton crater. Credits: NASA

[NASA Ames Press Release - 20.07.2007]
Two NASA robots are surveying a rocky, isolated polar desert within a crater in the Arctic Circle. The study will help scientists learn how robots could evaluate potential outposts on the moon or Mars.

The robots, K10 Black and K10 Red, carry 3-D laser scanners and ground-penetrating radar. The team arrived at Haughton Crater at Devon Island, Canada, on July 12 and will operate the machines until July 31. Scientists chose the polar region because of the extreme environmental conditions, lack of infrastructure and resources, and geologic features. Additionally, Haughton Crater is geographically similar to Shackleton Crater at the South Pole of the moon. Both are impact craters that measure roughly 12.4 miles in diameter.

Launch Postponement of Kaguya (Selene)

Kaguya in orbit around the Moon. Credits: Akihiro Ikeshita/JAXA

[JAXA Press Release - 20.07.2007]
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency would like to announce that we have decided to postpone the launch of the Lunar Orbit Explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE) by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 13 (H-IIA F13).

The launch was originally scheduled for August 16, 2007 (Japan Standard Time, JST.) The new launch date will be announced as soon as it is determined.

MIT team designs sleek, skintight spacesuit

Massachusetts Institute of Technology new biosuit. Credits: MIT

[Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press Release - 16.07.2007 ]
In the 40 years that humans have been traveling into space, the suits they wear have changed very little. The bulky, gas-pressurized outfits give astronauts a bubble of protection, but their significant mass and the pressure itself severely limit mobility.

Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, wants to change that.

Apollo Lunar Lander Team to Share Lessons Learned With NASA

Apollo 17 lander on the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 05.07.2007]
On July 20, the 38th anniversary of the first moon landing, NASA will host more than a dozen retired members of an engineering team that worked on the Apollo-era spacecraft that carried astronauts to the lunar surface. The engineers will share lessons learned with current NASA employees in the Constellation Program, which will return astronauts to the moon by 2020.

NASA Liquid-Mirror Telescope on Moon Might See Deeper Back in Time

[NASA Ames Press Release - 21.06.07]
Someday, astronauts on the moon may pour liquid onto a disc-shaped mesh to make a huge mirror for a powerful telescope, according to a technical article just made public.

The liquid would include a silver-coated surface, and would be part of an optical-infrared telescope with a 66-foot (20-meter) to 328-foot (100 meter) aperture capable of observing objects 100 to 1,000 times fainter than the James Webb Space Telescope, the authors say. The technical paper will appear in the June 21, 2007, issue of the journal, Nature.

NASA Prepares for Performing New Science on the Moon

[NASA Press Release - 21.06.07]
NASA has selected proposals for future lunar science activities and established two new programs that will enhance research made possible by the Vision for Space Exploration.

The proposals and programs are part of an effort by NASA to develop new opportunities to conduct important science investigations during the planned renewal of human exploration of the moon.

X PRIZE Foundation Announces Competitors for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Logo. Credits: X Prize

[X-Price press release - 20.06.2007]
A real rocket race is on the horizon with the return of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NG-LLC), the centerpiece of the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup and Holloman Air and Space Expo. In the Challenge's second year, the number of teams competing for the $2 million purse has increased from four teams to nine. The NG-LLC, sponsored by NASA's Centennial Challenges Program, is designed to accelerate commercial development of technology that can ferry cargo and humans between the moon's surface and lunar orbit.

Venus Near the Moon [image]

Here's an image from the Astronomy Picture of the Day showing the Moon and Venus.

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap070523.html

"The two brightest objects in the night sky appeared to go right past each other last week. On the night of May 19, Earth's Moon and the planet Venus were visible in the same part of the sky, and at closest approach were less than one degree apart.

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