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      After Russia’s failure, India is next in line to attempt a Moon landing

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August, 2023 - 00:25

    India's Chandrayaan 3 lander stands about 2 meters, or a little more than 6 feet, in height.

    Enlarge / India's Chandrayaan 3 lander stands about 2 meters, or a little more than 6 feet, in height. (credit: ISRO )

    India's Chandrayaan 3 spacecraft is setting up for a final descent to the surface of the Moon on Wednesday, four days after Russia's Luna 25 lander cratered following a botched engine burn.

    If all goes according to plan, the Chandrayaan 3 lander—named Vikram—will settle softly onto the lunar surface at 8:34 am EDT (12:34 UTC) Wednesday, redeeming India's failed landing attempt on the Chandrayaan 2 mission in 2019.

    But for the last 47 years, reaching the Moon's surface in one piece has proven to be an impossible task for any landing craft that wasn't built in China. Since 2013, China has racked up three successful landings with its robotic space missions, including the first controlled touchdown on the Moon's far side and an ambitious sample return mission in 2020 .

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      NASA’s Artemis II crew meets their Moonship

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 9 August, 2023 - 00:25

    Artemis II commander Reid Wiseman, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialists Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen pose with their Orion spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    Enlarge / Artemis II commander Reid Wiseman, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialists Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen pose with their Orion spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

    The three Americans and one Canadian slated to fly on NASA's Artemis II circumlunar mission had a "pinch me" moment Monday when they got their first chance visit the Orion spacecraft that will carry them around the Moon and back to Earth.

    The astronauts had an opportunity to peer through the hatch of the Orion crew capsule for the Artemis II mission, now largely complete and going through some final tests before it is connected to its power and propulsion module at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    "We all said when we walked up to it the first time, that it gave us chills, and it really does," said Christina Koch, a mission specialist on the Artemis II mission. "So it's a new way that I feel bonded with this crew and also with the team."

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      How NASA plans to melt the Moon—and build on Mars

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 24 May, 2023 - 14:17 · 1 minute

    Mars Dune Alpha is the first structure built for NASA by the Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology team.

    Enlarge / Mars Dune Alpha is the first structure built for NASA by the Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology team. (credit: ICON)

    In June a four-person crew will enter a hangar at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and spend one year inside a 3D-printed building. Made of a slurry that—before it dried—looked like neatly laid lines of soft-serve ice cream, Mars Dune Alpha has crew quarters, shared living space, and dedicated areas for administering medical care and growing food. The 1,700-square-foot space, which is the color of Martian soil, was designed by architecture firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and 3D printed by Icon Technology.

    Experiments inside the structure will focus on the physical and behavioral health challenges people will encounter during long-term residencies in space. But it’s also the first structure built for a NASA mission by the Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology (MMPACT) team, which is preparing now for the first construction projects on a planetary body beyond Earth.

    When humanity returns to the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program , astronauts will first live in places like an orbiting space station, on a lunar lander, or in inflatable surface habitats. But the MMPACT team is preparing for the construction of sustainable, long-lasting structures. To avoid the high cost of shipping material from Earth, which would require massive rockets and fuel expenditures, that means using the regolith that’s already there, turning it into a paste that can be 3D printed into thin layers or different shapes.

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      Remastered images reveal how far Alan Shepard hit a golf ball on the Moon

      Jennifer Ouellette · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 5 February, 2021 - 02:12 · 1 minute

    This image consists of six photographs taken from the Apollo 14 Lunar Module, enhanced and stitched into a single panorama to show the landing scene, along with the location from where Alan Shepard hit two golf balls. Both astronaut

    Enlarge / This image consists of six photographs taken from the Apollo 14 Lunar Module, enhanced and stitched into a single panorama to show the landing scene, along with the location from where Alan Shepard hit two golf balls. Both astronaut's PLSS' (life-support backpacks) can also be seen at left. (credit: NASA / JSC / ASU / Andy Saunders )

    Fifty years ago this week, NASA astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr. made space history when he took a few golf swings on the Moon during the Apollo 14 mission , successfully hitting two golf balls across the lunar surface. Space enthusiasts have debated for decades just how far that second ball traveled. It seems we now have an answer , thanks to the efforts of imaging specialist Andy Saunders, who digitally enhanced archival images from that mission and used them to estimate the final resting spots of the golf balls.

    Saunders, who has been working with the United States Golf Association (USGA) to commemorate Shepard's historical feat, announced his findings in a Twitter thread. Saunders concluded that the first golf ball Shepard hit traveled roughly 24 yards, while the second golf ball traveled 40 yards.

    Shepard's fondness for cheeky irreverence had popped up occasionally during his successful pre-NASA naval career, most notably when he was a test pilot at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. He was nearly court-martialed for looping the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during a test flight, but fortunately, his superiors intervened. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA in 1959, Shepard was selected as one of the seven Mercury astronauts. (The others were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, and Deke Slayton.)

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      The Trump administration left Biden with a rocket dilemma

      Eric Berger · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 27 January, 2021 - 14:36

    SLS Green Run Test

    Enlarge / And the day that was comes to a close at NASA's Stennis Space Center after the SLS rocket fired up for the Green Run test on January 16, 2021. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

    Nearly two years ago, then Vice President Mike Pence delivered the most consequential space policy speech of his tenure in office. During a National Space Council meeting at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, Pence laid out the Trump administration's plans to land humans on the Moon by the year 2024.

    "We must redouble our efforts here in Huntsville and throughout this program," said Pence, speaking to engineers leading development of NASA's Space Launch System rocket. "We must accelerate the SLS program to meet this objective. But know this: The President has directed NASA and Administrator Jim Bridenstine to accomplish this goal by any means necessary."

    At the time, NASA engineers at Marshall told Pence they were confident the SLS rocket would make its debut flight in 2020, setting up a schedule to allow astronauts to return to the Moon by 2024. Even so, Pence maintained he was not committed to any single rocket, or contractor. The Moon was the goal—not the means of reaching it.

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      Water found in new locations on the Moon, may be trapped in glass

      John Timmer · news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 26 October, 2020 - 20:39 · 1 minute

    Image of an airplane with a dark patch near its tail.

    Enlarge / The instrument used to detect the water flies on a 747. (credit: NASA/Jim Ross )

    Despite its proximity to a very blue planet, the Earth's Moon appeared to be completely dry, with samples returned by the Apollo missions being nearly devoid of water. But in recent years, a number of studies have turned up what appears to be water in some locations on the Moon, although the evidence wasn't always decisive.

    Today, NASA is announcing that it has used an airborne observatory to spot clear indications of water in unexpected places. But the water may be in a form that makes accessing it much harder. Separately, an analysis of spots where water could be easier to reach indicates that there's more potential reservoirs than we'd previously suspected.

    Up in the air

    With no atmosphere and low gravity, the Moon can't hang on to water on its surface. The first time that sunlight heats lunar water up, it will form a vapor and eventually escape into space. But there are regions on the Moon, primarily near the poles, that are permanently shadowed. There, temperatures remain perpetually low, and ice can survive indefinitely. And, to test this possibility, NASA crashed some hardware into a shady area near the Moon's south pole and found water vapor amidst the debris.

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