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Exploration Of The Moon


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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 06:49 PM

At the moment just one, solitary spacecraft, the European Space Agency's Smart-1 is imaging the moon. However over the next few years a flotila of spacecraft from the USA, China and India are due to be launched towards our natural satellite. It seems sensible, therefore, to start a topic along the lines of the Exploration of Mars thread.

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NASA To Crash Impactor into Moon in Water Search

linked-image

NASA will send an impactor spacecraft to the moon with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled for October 2008. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite will travel independently of the orbiter and crash into the lunar surface to search for water ice.

Image above: In this artist's concept, the upper stage and a "sheparding spacecraft" (left) approach the moon before impacting at the south pole (right). Credit: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates. + View Animation (Windows)

First, the craft will direct the upper stage used to leave Earth orbit to crash into a permanently-shadowed crater at the lunar south pole, creating a plume visible to Earth-based observatories. Next, the satellite will observe the plume and fly through it using several instruments to look for water. At the end of its mission, the satellite will itself become an impactor, creating a second plume visible to lunar-orbiting spacecraft and Earth-based observatories.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is the first of many robotic missions NASA will conduct between 2008 and 2016 to study, map, and learn about the lunar surface as we prepare to return astronauts to the moon. Early missions like this one will help determine potential lunar landing sites and explore whether resources, such as oxygen, hydrogen, and metals, are available.

Robotic missions like this will work in tandem with humans as we chart a new course into the cosmos, laid out in the Vision for Space Exploration announced by President Bush in January 2004. The Vision calls for landing humans on the moon before the end of the next decade, paving the way for eventual journeys to Mars and beyond.

We're well on the way to this goal, with development moving forward on the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the next generation spacecraft which builds on the best of shuttle and Apollo technology.


Source: NASA - The Vision For Space Exploration

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 12 December 2006 - 05:57 AM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 07:03 PM

The user posted image press release is reproduced below:

April 10, 2006
Michael Braukus/Dolores Beasley
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-1979/1753

John Bluck
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
(650) 604-5026

RELEASE: 06-181


NASA Chooses New Spacecraft to Search for Water on Moon


NASA will send a second spacecraft to the moon with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled for October 2008. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite will travel independent of the orbiter to search for water ice.

The spacecraft, proposed by NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., will fly as a secondary payload on the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle that will launch the orbiter from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

First, the craft will direct the upper stage used to leave Earth orbit to crash into a permanently-shadowed crater at the lunar south pole, creating a plume visible to Earth-based observatories. Next, the satellite will observe the plume and fly through it using several instruments to look for water. Then the satellite will itself become an impactor, creating a second plume visible to lunar-orbiting spacecraft and Earth-based observatories.

"This type of payload is not new to NASA," said Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Scott Horowitz, who made the selection. "We are taking advantage of the payload capability of the launch vehicle to conduct additional high risk/high payoff science to meet Vision for Space Exploration goals. It also signals to our workforce that innovative and competitive, low-cost approaches will be rewarded," he said.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is the first of many robotic missions NASA will conduct between 2008 and 2016 to study, map, and learn about the lunar surface to prepare for the return of astronauts to the moon. These early missions will help determine lunar landing sites and whether resources, such as oxygen, hydrogen, and metals, are available for use in NASA's long-term lunar exploration objectives.

NASA's requirements for the secondary payload were that it benefits the robotic lunar program, cost no more than $80 million and not exceed 2,205 pounds (1000 kilograms).

On January 10, 2006, NASA issued a request for information to industry to allow businesses to provide secondary payload concepts to NASA. NASA encouraged its field centers to team with industry to develop proposals. Each NASA center reviewed ideas from industry, as well as secondary payload concepts developed internally. Several proposers, such as the winning spacecraft, took advantage of a new secondary payload adapter developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M.

NASA asked that the concepts advance the Vision for Space Exploration by advancing lunar science, characterizing the lunar environment, and identifying of sites for future human missions NASA was also looking for missions that would advance commercial opportunities and collect engineering data to support the Constellation program, which is developing NASA's new spaceship, the Crew Exploration Vehicle.

For more about NASA's plans to explore the moon, Mars and beyond, visit:
www.nasa.gov/exploration

- end -

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Source: NASA Press Release 06-181

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#3    angrycrustacean

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:00 PM

Nasa's become quite fond of smashing heavy things into various space objects.

Of course, it's a good idea. So brilliantly simple, and relatively easy to execute.

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#4    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 08:10 PM

Quote


Nasa's become quite fond of smashing heavy things into various space objects.

Of course, it's a good idea. So brilliantly simple, and relatively easy to execute.


Not just NASA, ESA too, for the Don Quijote mission is a European idea.

NASA tried this trick before when they smashed Lunar Prospector into a South Polar crater. No water was directly observed but the craft was not made for this purpose and the observations were made from Earth. If the water is actually there then this mission will have a much greater chance of finding it.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#5    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 10:36 PM

Tectonic ‘wrinkles’ in Crater De Gasparis

linked-image
This image, taken by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows Crater De Gasparis on the Moon.
The AMIE camera obtained this image on 14 January 2006 from a distance of about 1090 kilometres with a ground resolution of approximately 100 metres per pixel. It is located close to the Mare Humorum, at longitude 51.2° West and latitude 26.0° South, and has a diameter of about 30 kilometres.

Credits: ESA/SPACE-X (Space Exploration Institute)


22 March 2006
This image, taken by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows Crater De Gasparis on the Moon.

The AMIE camera obtained this image on 14 January 2006 from a distance of about 1090 kilometres with a ground resolution of approximately 100 metres per pixel.
Crater De Gasparis is located close to the Mare Humorum, at longitude 51.2° West and latitude 26.0° South, on the lower left quarter of the Moon’s Earth-facing side. It has a diameter of about 30 kilometres and can be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

The criss-cross patterns in it are called ‘rilles’ (these are features where the surface has sunk down to form a trench).

These rilles coincide with deep tectonic faults that have been active over a long period of lunar geological evolution. They are the result of stresses due to all the tidal forces and volcanic expansion over the lunar mantle during the last stages of lava flooding of Oceanus Procellarum.  

The fact that the rilles cross the crater means that they formed after the crater. This is a good example for how geologists can determine the relative history of the Moon’s surface.

This crater is named after the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis (1819-1892). De Gasparis was director of the observatory in Naples, Italy.

Source: ESA - Smart-1

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 12 December 2006 - 05:58 AM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#6    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 10:48 PM

SMART-1 maps Humorum edge - where Highlands and Mare mix

user posted image
This sequence of images, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows an area on the near side of the Moon, at the edge of the Mare Humorum basin.
AMIE obtained these raw images on 13 January 2006 from a distance ranging between 1031 and 1107 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution between 93 and 100 metres per pixel.

The imaged area is located at longitude 45.7º West and latitude between 30.5º and 24.5º South. The field of view of each single image is about 50 kilometres.

Credits: ESA/SPACE-X (Space Exploration Institute)


26 April 2006
This sequence of images, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows on area on the near side of the Moon, on the edge of the Mare Humorum basin.

AMIE obtained these raw images on 13 January 2006 from a distance ranging between 1031 and 1107 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution between 93 and 100 metres per pixel.
The imaged area is located at longitude 45.7º West and latitude between 30.5º and 24.5º South. The field of view of each single image is about 50 kilometres.

The flat lava plain in the upper right image is the floor of Mare Humorum. The bowl-shaped crater on top, cut by a fracture, is called ‘Liebig F’ and has a diameter of nine kilometres.

The Mare Humorum impact basin is 825 kilometres across. Its precise age could not be determined yet by previous lunar programmes, but geologic mapping suggest it could be around 3.9 thousand million years old – an age comprised between those of the Imbrium and Nectaris Basins. The Humorum basin is filled with a layer of basalt, likely thicker than three kilometres at its centre.  

user posted image
This screenshot image, generated by the ESA planning software MAPPS, illustrates the movement of the spacecraft over the lunar surface. In this way it is possible to generate a lunar map with sequences of images taken by the SMART-1's AMIE camera. The tilt of the individual frames is a result of the spacecraft attitude, which is driven by thermal constraints in orbit.
This particular map is built with images taken on 13 January 2006, and refers to an area at the edge of Mare Humorum.

Credits: ESA


The Humorum basin, like several other lunar basins, was formed in a period which ended around 4.1 billion years ago. It was filled with mare material - basaltic flood eruptions caused by very large meteoroid impacts - only during the later Eratosthenian era, in a period comprised between 3.9 and 3.2 billion years ago. The western edge of the sea is marked by a network of cracks and clefts following the Rupes Liebig.

The three northern images include part of the flat darker area corresponding to the mare basalt filling the inner ring of the basin impact. A fresh small crater is surrounded by brighter deposits.

The top north image also shows giant lava tubes or rilles in the Mare. Some graben-lineated structures (a graben is an elongated and relatively depressed crustal block that between two fault systems) indicate the stress structures created during the multi-ring collapse, and refreshed by additional load deformation from the weight of later basalt fill.

It is possible to notice the landscape transition towards the most southern image typical of an old cratered highland. In the middle image the small craters are not very clear because the terrain has been partly covered by material ejected from the impact basin.


Note:

An intersting reference on Mare Humorum compositional and geological studies is given by Martin, Pinet, Chevrel and Daydou (1998, http://www.lpi.usra....98/pdf/1547.pdf)

Source: ESA - Smart-1

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#7    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 03:14 PM

SMART-1’s view of Crater Hopmann: on the shoulder of a giant

user posted image
This image, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows one quarter of crater Hopmann - an impact structure about 88 kilometres in diameter.
AMIE obtained this image on 25 January 2006 from a distance of about 840 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 76 metres per pixel.

The imaged area, not visible from Earth because it is located on the far side of the Moon, is positioned at latitude of 51.7º South and longitude 159.2º East. It covers a square of about 39 kilometres per side.

Credits: ESA/SPACE-X (Space Exploration Institute)


3 May 2006
This image, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows one quarter of crater Hopmann - an impact structure about 88 kilometres in diameter.

AMIE obtained this image on 25 January 2006 from a distance of about 840 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 76 metres per pixel.
The imaged area, not visible from Earth because it is located on the far side of the Moon, is positioned at latitude of 51.7º South and longitude 159.2º East. It covers a square of about 39 kilometres per side.

The crater (centred at 50.8º South, 160.3º East) is situated on the edge of the giant South Pole-Aitken basin SPA, the largest impact crater in the solar system with a diameter of 2500 kilometres and a depth of 13 kilometres. The SPA basin shows distinctive chemical composition with unusual mineralogy types, and possible exposure of rocks from the lower crust or the upper mantle.  

The hills on the lower left side are the crater wall of Hopmann. This crater is very old - many small craters can be seen on its flat floor, the largest one showing an interesting double-ringed structure. The outer rim has been also eroded by later impacts.

The small crater chains to the left of Hopmann can be interpreted as series of so-called ‘secondary craters’, created by the impact of the material ejected from a nearby large impact. This ejected material flies away in molten state, and fall in large ‘droplets’. When these impact on the surface, they form typical crater chains as those visible in this image.

The crater is named after Josef Hopmann (1890-1975), an astronomer that worked in Bonn, Leipzig and as Director of the Vienna Observatory.

Source: ESA - Smart-1

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#8    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 01:06 PM

ISRO and NASA Sign MOU on Chandrayaan-1

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) press release is reproduced below:

May 9, 2006
  
Mr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO, and Dr Michael Griffin, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of USA today (May 9, 2006) signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) at ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bangalore, on inclusion of two US Scientific instruments on board India's first mission to Moon, Chandrayaan-1. These instruments are - Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini SAR) developed by Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University and funded by NASA and Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), jointly built by Brown University and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA.

user posted image
Mr G Madhavan Nair, Chairman, ISRO (centre) and Dr Michael Griffin, Administrator, NASA (right), signing
MOU on Chandrayaan-1 at ISRO Satellite Centre.


Chandrayaan-1, scheduled during 2007-2008, is India's first unmanned scientific mission to moon. The main objective is the investigation of the distribution of various minerals and chemical elements and high-resolution three-dimensional mapping of the entire lunar surface. ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, will launch Chandrayaan-1 into a 240 km X 24,000 km earth orbit. Subsequently, the spacecraft's own propulsion system would be used to place it in a 100 km polar orbit around the moon.

The Indian payloads on board Chandrayaan-1 include: a Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC), a Hyper Spectral Imager (HySI), a High-Energy X-ray spectrometer (HEX), a Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI) and a Moon Impact Probe (MIP).

The two US instruments, Mini SAR and M3, were selected on the basis of merit out of 16 firm proposals from all over the world received in response to ISRO's announcement of opportunity. The main objective of Mini SAR is to detect water in the permanently shadowed areas of lunar polar regions. The objective of M3 is the characterisation and mapping of minerals on the lunar surface.

Earlier, three instruments - Chandrayaan-1 Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer (CIXS) from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, developed with contribution from ISRO Satellite Centre; Near Infra-Red Spectrometer (SIR-2) from Max Planck Institute, Germany; and Sub keV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA) from Swedish Institute of Space Physics developed in collaboration with ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre -- were selected from the European Space Agency besides a RAdiation DOse Monitor (RADOM) from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The inclusion of US instruments on Chandrayaan-1 has added fillip to the Indo-US cooperation in the space arena which dates back to the very beginning of the Indian space programme. More recently, the India-US Conference on Space Science, Applications and Commerce held at Bangalore during in June 2004 led to the setting up of a Joint Working Group to enhance the cooperation in civil space between India and USA. The Joint Working Group, comprising representatives of government, academic institutions and industries, had its first meeting in Bangalore in June 2005.

During the signing of MOU today, senior NASA and US Embassy officials and senior officials from ISRO and Ministry of External Affairs were present. Dr Griffin also visited the laboratories at ISAC and interacted with senior scientists. He would also be visiting Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthapuram and Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR at Sriharikota.


Source: ISRO Press Release

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#9    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 01:12 PM

NASA Agrees to Cooperate With India on Lunar Mission

The user posted image press release is reproduced below:

May 9, 2006
Dean Acosta/Melissa Mathews
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-1400/1272

RELEASE: 06-219


NASA Agrees to Cooperate With India on Lunar Mission


NASA will have two scientific instruments on India's maiden voyage to the moon. Tuesday, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and his counterpart, Indian Space Research Organization Chairman G. Madhavan Nair, signed two Memoranda of Understanding in Bangalore, India, for cooperation on India's Chandrayaan-1 mission.

Griffin is touring Indian Space Research Organization facilities this week. He will visit its satellite development center, launch vehicle production center and launch site.

"It is my hope and belief that as we extend the reach of human civilization throughout the solar system, the United States and India will be partners on many more technically challenging and scientifically rewarding projects," Griffin said at a ceremony in Bangalore. "I very much look forward to the opportunity to see first hand India's impressive space facilities, to meet with your scientists and engineers and to learn more about your remarkable work."

Chandrayaan-1, a lunar orbiter, is expected to launch in late 2007 or early 2008. It is a truly international mission, with payloads from Europe as well as the United States. NASA's contribution includes the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a NASA Discovery Program mission of opportunity designed to assess mineral resources of the moon. A second NASA instrument, Mini-SAR, will look for ice deposits in the moon's polar regions.

Data from the two instruments will contribute to NASA's increased understanding of the lunar environment as it implements the Vision for Space Exploration, which calls for robotic and human exploration of the moon's surface.

For information about the Vision for Space Exploration, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/exploration
- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Source: NASA Press Release 06-219

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#10    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 05:04 PM

NASA Set to Launch Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2008

The user posted image press release is reproduced below:

May 18, 2006
Michael Braukus/Dolores Beasley
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-1979/1753

Nancy Neal Jones
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
(301) 286-0039

RELEASE: 06-224

NASA Set to Launch Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2008


After successful completion of its mission confirmation review on Wednesday, May 17, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project has been given the authority to proceed to the implementation phase.

The confirmation review represents NASA's formal decision for authorizing additional work and sets the project's cost estimate. The mission was deemed to be within budget and on schedule to launch in October 2008.

After a 30-year hiatus, the orbiter represents NASA's first step towards returning humans to the moon. The spacecraft will spend an unprecedented year mapping the moon from an average altitude of approximately 30 miles. It will carry six instruments and one technology demonstration to conduct investigations specifically targeted at preparing for future human exploration.

The orbiter is being built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The instruments are being provided by various organizations throughout the U.S. and one in Russia. The instruments will generate a global map of the moon; to determine which potential landing sites are free from hazards; to measure light and temperature patterns at the moon's poles; to search for potential resources, such as water; and to assess the deep-space radiation environment and its potential effects on humans.

The next spacecraft milestone is the critical design review, scheduled for later this year. This review represents the completion of detailed system designs and marks the transition into the manufacturing, assembly, and integration phase of the mission development cycle.

For information about NASA's exploration efforts and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, visit:


For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/home

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Source: NASA Press Release 06-224

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#11    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 11:25 PM

Highlands and Mare landscapes on the Moon

linked-image
These two images, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, show the difference between lunar highlands (left) and a ‘mare’ area (right) from close by. Highlands present a very irregular topography and many craters, while the mare area is comparatively flat and shows a much smaller number of craters.
The first image, showing highlands, was obtained by AMIE on 22 January 2006, from a distance of about 1112 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 100 metres per pixel. The imaged area is centred at a latitude of 26º South and at a longitude of 157º West.

The second image, showing a mare, was taken on 10 January 2006, from a distance of about 1990 kilometres and with a ground resolution of 180 metres per pixel. The geographical coordinates of the area are 27.4º North latitude and 0.8º East.

Credits: ESA/SMART-1/Space-X (Space Exploration Institute)


26 May 2006
These two images, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, show the difference between lunar highlands and a mare area from close by.

The first image, showing highlands, was obtained by AMIE on 22 January 2006, from a distance of about 1112 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 100 metres per pixel. The imaged area is centred at a latitude of 26º South and at a longitude of 157º West.
The second image, showing a mare, was taken on 10 January 2006, from a distance of about 1990 kilometres and with a ground resolution of 180 metres per pixel. The geographical coordinates of the area are 27.4º North latitude and 0.8º East.  

Already when looking at the Moon with the naked eye, it can be seen that there are bright and dark areas on its surface. Centuries ago, the dark areas were called 'maria', presumably assuming that the observer would be seeing water oceans. Today we know that there is no liquid water on our satellite. However, telescopic observations showed that the maria are very flat, and are very different from the so-called highlands. The highlands are heavily cratered and mountainous.

We have learned that the maria are relatively young areas on the Moon which were generated after very large impacts penetrated the crust of our Moon and excavated basins. During later volcanic episodes, liquid magma came to the surface and filled these basins. When it cooled down and solidified, it formed the large flat areas we can still see now. As this happened in comparatively recent times, the number of impact craters is far less than in the highland areas.

From the two AMIE images it is possible to see how highlands present a very irregular topography and many craters, while the mare area is comparatively flat and shows a much smaller number of craters.

Source: ESA - Smart-1

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 31 May 2007 - 02:16 AM.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#12    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 01 June 2006 - 12:00 PM

SMART-1 close-up on Zucchius crater’s central peaks

user posted image
This image, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows the central peaks of crater Zucchius.
AMIE obtained this image on 14 January 2006 from a distance of about 753 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 68 metres per pixel. The imaged area is centred at a latitude of 61.3º South and longitude 50.8º West.

Zucchius is a prominent lunar impact crater located near the southwest limb. It has 66 kilometres diameter, but only its inside is visible in this image, as the AMIE field of view is 35 kilometres from this close-up distance.

Credits: ESA/SMART-1/Space-X (Space Exploration Institute)


1 June 2006
This image, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows the central peaks of crater Zucchius.

AMIE obtained this image on 14 January 2006 from a distance of about 753 kilometres from the surface, with a ground resolution of 68 metres per pixel.
The imaged area is centred at a latitude of 61.3º South and longitude 50.8º West. Zucchius is a prominent lunar impact crater located near the southwest limb. It has 66 kilometres diameter, but only its inside is visible in this image, as the AMIE field of view is 35 kilometres from this close-up distance.  

Because of its location, the crater appears oblong-shaped due to foreshortening. It lies just to the south-southwest of Segner crater, and northeast of the much larger Bailly walled-plain. To the southeast is the Bettinus crater, a formation only slightly larger than Zucchius.

Zucchius formed in the Copernican era, a period in the lunar planetary history that goes from 1.2 thousand million years ago to present times. Another example of craters from this period are Copernicus (about 800 milion years old) and Tycho (100 million years old). Craters from the Copernican era show characteristic ejecta ray patterns - as craters age, ejecta rays darken due to weathering by the flowing solar wind.

The hills near the centre of the image are the so-called ‘central peaks’ of the crater, features that form in large craters on the Moon. The crater is formed by the impact of a small asteroid onto the lunar surface. The surface is molten and, similarly to when a drop of water falls into a full cup of coffee, the hit surface bounces back, it solidifies and then 'freezes' into the central peak.

The name of Zucchius crater is due to the Italian Mathematician and astronomer Niccolo Zucchi (1586-1670).

Source: ESA - Smart-1

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#13    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 11:53 PM

A Meteoroid Hits the Moon

June 13, 2006: There's a new crater on the Moon. It's about 14 meters wide, 3 meters deep and precisely one month, eleven days old.

NASA astronomers watched it form: "On May 2, 2006, a meteoroid hit the Moon's Sea of Clouds (Mare Nubium) with 17 billion joules of kinetic energy—that's about the same as 4 tons of TNT," says Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, AL. "The impact created a bright fireball which we video-recorded using a 10-inch telescope."

Lunar impacts have been seen before--"stuff hits the Moon all the time," notes Cooke--but this is the best-ever recording of an explosion in progress:

user posted image
Above: A meteoroid hits the Moon, May 2, 2006, video-recorded by MSFC engineers
Heather McNamara and Danielle Moser. [Larger video] [labels]


The video plays in 7x slow motion; otherwise the explosion would be nearly invisible to the human eye. "The duration of the fireball was only four-tenths of a second," says Cooke. "A student member of our team, Nick Hollon of Villanova University, spotted the flash."

Taking into account the duration of the flash and its brightness (7th magnitude), Cooke was able to estimate the energy of impact, the dimensions of the crater, and the size and speed of the meteoroid. "It was a space rock about 10 inches (25 cm) wide traveling 85,000 mph (38 km/s)," he says.

If a rock like that hit Earth, it would never reach the ground. "Earth's atmosphere protects us," Cooke explains. "A 10-inch meteoroid would disintegrate in mid-air, making a spectacular fireball in the sky but no crater." The Moon is different. Having no atmosphere, it is totally exposed to meteoroids. Even small ones can cause spectacular explosions, spraying debris far and wide.

According to the Vision for Space Exploration, NASA is sending astronauts back to the Moon. Are these meteoroids going to cause a problem?

"That's what we're trying to find out," says Cooke. "No one knows exactly how many meteoroids hit the Moon every day. By monitoring the flashes, we can learn how often and how hard the Moon gets hit."

The work is underway. Using a computerized telescope built by Rob Suggs and Wesley Swift of the Marshall Space Flight Center, Cooke's group is monitoring the night side of the Moon "as often as ten times a month, whenever the lunar phase is between 15% and 50%."

During a telescope test last November 7th, Suggs and Swift recorded an explosion on their very first night of observing. A piece of debris from Comet Encke struck the plains of Mare Imbrium, making a crater about 3 meters wide.

user posted image
Above: The light curve of the May 2nd explosion in
Mare Nubium. [Larger image]


Now that regular monitoring has begun, Cooke's group has already found a second impact, the May 2nd event, in only 20 hours of watching. This time, they believe, the impactor was a random meteoroid, "a sporadic," from no particular comet or asteroid.

"We've made a good beginning," says Cooke, but much work remains. He would like to observe all year long, watching the Moon as it passes in and out of known meteoroid streams. "This would establish a good statistical basis for planning [activities on the Moon]."

Is it safe to go moon walking during a meteor shower? How much shielding does a lunar habitat need? Does the Moon have its own meteor showers, unknown on Earth?

Expect the answers in a flash.


Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA


More Information
The Sky is Falling -- (Science@NASA) NASA researchers are mining old Apollo seismic data for clues to lunar meteoroid impacts

An Explosion on the Moon -- (Science@NASA) A piece of Comet Encke hit Mare Imbrium; the explosion was visible from Earth

A.L.P.O. Lunar Section: Meteoritics Impact Search -- Lunar meteorite flashes are visible through backyard telescopes. The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers is helping amateur astronomers get involved in the hunt.


The Vision for Space Exploration


Source: Science@NASA

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#14    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 03:27 PM

SMART-1 manoeuvres prepare for mission end

23 June 2006
After sixteen months orbiting the Moon, ESA's lunar mission is preparing for the end of its scientific exploration. On 19 June, SMART-1 mission controllers initiated a 17-day series of manoeuvres aimed at positioning the spacecraft to enhance science data return as the mission winds down.

user posted image
Artist's impression of SMART-1

Credits: ESA


SMART-1, Europe's successful first Moon mission, is scheduled to end on 3 September 2006, impacting on the Moon's surface in a disposal plan similar to that of many earlier lunar missions and almost three years to the day after its 2003 launch.  

The recently started manoeuvre campaign aims to avoid having the spacecraft intersect with the Moon at a disadvantageous time from the scientific point of view, as it would have naturally about 17 August if left alone. Instead, this 'extension' to mission operations will provide new opportunities for low-altitude scientific observations and give optimum science returns during and after the spacecraft's controlled impact on the Moon.
In preparation for mission end, spacecraft controllers at ESOC, ESA's Spacecraft Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, have started a series of thruster firings to give a 'delta-velocity,' or change in velocity, of approximately 12 metres per second. This will raise the orbit perilune (point of closest passage over the Moon) by about 90 kilometres, and will shift the impact to 3 September.

user posted image
Computer-generated projection of a possible impact trajectory for SMART-1. The final trajectory has yet to be confirmed.

"The shift in date, time and location for Moon intersection is also optimised to favour scientific observations from Earth," said Gerhard Schwehm, ESA's SMART-1 Mission Manager. "Projections based on the current orbit indicated that the spacecraft, if left as is, would impact the Moon on the far side, away from ground contact and visibility. The new location is on the Moon's near-side, at mid-southern latitudes."

For the manoeuvre campaign, the use of the electric propulsion system (the ion engine) had to be ruled out since all Xenon propellant reserves were exhausted during the mission. The mission control team have instead developed an imaginative approach.


Innovative manoeuvre strategy

"The manoeuvre strategy consists of a series of reaction-wheel off-loadings combined with about three hours of intermittent thrust centred at apolune (point of furthest distance from the Moon) during the next 74 orbits," said Octavio Camino, Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESOC.

The off-loading consists of braking a set of spinning wheels inside the spacecraft, which has the effect of transferring angular momentum from the wheels to the spacecraft and hence changing its velocity.

"We use asymmetric firing of the attitude thrusters to produce a small velocity variation aligned with the flight direction. This will change the orbit by an accumulative effect," added Camino.


"After these manoeuvres, science activities will resume until the impact, with short interruptions for two trim manoeuvres to adjust the impact time, one around the end of July and one at the beginning of September," he concluded.

This manoeuvre campaign and the following trim manoeuvres will make it possible to predict the exact time and location for the SMART-1 impact with more accuracy.


Note

SMART-1 is the first in a series of 'Small Missions for Advanced Research and Technology' in which elements of the platform and miniaturised payload technology have been conceived as a demonstration for future scientific missions and an early opportunity for science. SMART-1 used an innovative ion-propulsion system powered by a small quantity of onboard Xenon and solar energy to generate electricity used to ionise the fuel to travel to the Moon.


After a 27 September 2003 launch, SMART-1 spiralled out over a 14-month period until being captured by the Moon on 15 November 2004, thus successfully achieving the primary objective of demonstrating solar electric propulsion during interplanetary travel. In addition to helping prove new technology from the perspective of satellite design, the mission has also provided an opportunity to develop new ways of conducting ground control operations based on both increased satellite autonomy and improved tools for ground automation.


The wealth of scientific data from SMART-1 are still being processed and analysed. Thanks to SMART-1, scientists all over Europe and around the world will have access to the best-resolution surface images ever taken from lunar orbit, as well as a better knowledge of the Moon's minerals. For the first time from orbit, SMART-1 detected Calcium and Magnesium using an X-ray instrument. It measured compositional changes from the central peaks of craters, volcanic plains and giant impact basins. The camera studied impact craters, volcanic features and lava tubes, and monitored the polar regions.


Source: ESA - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#15    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 30 June 2006 - 05:56 PM

Mysterious Lunar Swirls

June 26, 2006: Picture this: A cup of coffee, steaming and black. Add a dollop of milk and gently stir. Eddies of cream go swirling around the cup.

Magnify that image a million times and you've got a Lunar Swirl.

Lunar swirls are strange markings on the Moon that resemble the cream in your coffee—on a much larger scale. They seem to be curly-cues of pale moondust, twisting and turning across the lunar surface for dozens of miles. Each swirl is utterly flat and protected by a magnetic field.

user posted image
Above: The Reiner Gamma swirl, photographed by the ESA's SMART-1 lunar orbiter.[More]


What are they? "We don't know," says Bob Lin of UC Berkeley, who has been studying the swirls for almost 40 years. "These things are very strange."

One of the swirls, Reiner Gamma, can be seen through a backyard telescope. It lies near the western shores of Oceanus Procellarum (the Ocean of Storms) and looks at first sight like a strangely disorganized crater. Indeed, that's what most astronomers thought it was until 1966 when NASA's Lunar Orbiter II spacecraft flew overhead and photographed Reiner Gamma from point blank range. Whatever it was in that grainy black and white photo, it was not a crater.

Before long, two more swirls were found on the Moon's farside. They lie directly opposite the nearside impact basins Mare Imbrium (the Sea of Rains) and Mare Orientale (the Eastern Sea). Impacts on one side of the Moon, it seemed, made swirls on the other side. No one could explain how.

The mystery deepened in 1972 when Lin and colleagues discovered that the swirls were magnetized. "It was an accidental discovery," he recalls. As often happens in science, "we were trying to learn about something completely different."

Their target was Earth's magnetic tail, a ropey pasta of magnetic force fields extending from Earth more than a million miles into deep space. The solar wind blowing against Earth's magnetic field makes the tail, and in the days of Apollo not much was known about it.

To study the tail, "we built two small satellites and asked NASA to put them in orbit around the Moon." The Moon is a great place to sample the Earth's magnetotail, he explains, because the Moon passes through the tail once a month as it orbits Earth.

NASA said yes, and two "sub-satellites" were deployed by the crews of Apollo 15 in 1971 and Apollo 16 in 1972. "The astronauts pushed a button and the satellites were shoved into space by a spring," says Lin. Free of the Service Module (the Apollo mothership), they orbited the Moon, gathering data collected by onboard electron detectors and magnetometers.

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Above: An Apollo sub-satellite leaves the Service Module, an artist's concept. [More]

"We learned a lot about Earth's magnetic tail," says Lin. But they learned even more about the Moon:

As the sub-satellites flew just 60 miles above the lunar terrain, they passed in and out of strange magnetic domains. Magnetic force fields were sprouting out of the lunar surface, reaching up and affecting the satellites' sensors. "We realized that the crust of the Moon must be magnetized," he recalls. It wasn't a global magnetic field like Earth's, but rather a crazy-quilt of magnetic patches.

The strongest fields were located above Lunar Swirls. "The swirls have magnetic fields measuring a few hundred nano-Tesla (nT) at ground level," says Lin. (Earth's magnetic field, for comparison, is 30,000 nT.) "If you walked around a swirl with a magnetic compass, the needle would swing back and forth in a confusing way. You'd quickly get lost because the magnetic fields are so jumbled."

Lin believes these strange fields are an important clue to the origin of swirls, and he offers this possibility:

"Almost four billion years ago, the Moon had a liquid iron core and a global magnetic field. Suppose an asteroid hit the Moon. The blast would make a cloud of electrically conducting gas ('plasma') that would sweep around the Moon, pushing the global magnetic field in front of it. Eventually, the cloud would converge at a point directly opposite the impact, concentrating the magnetic field at that point." Eons later, the Moon's core cooled and its global magnetic field faded away. Only the strongest, tangled patches remained--the swirls.

user posted image
Above: A magnetic map of Reiner Gamma obtained by NASA's Lunar Prospector spacecraft in the 1990s. [More]

This idea provides an explanation for the light, creamy appearance of swirls. According to some researchers, moondust is darkened by long exposure to solar wind. Maybe the swirls are light because they get less exposure: their magnetic fields deflect solar wind. If so, lunar swirls are merely a shadow of the magnetic forces arching above them.

It all sounds neat and tidy, but there's a problem: While two of the lunar swirls are directly opposite an impact basin, one is not: Reiner Gamma. The prototype swirl doesn't fit!

"It's a real mystery," acknowledges Lin.

More clues are on the way. NASA is returning to the Moon, eventually with people but first with robot scouts. Leading the way is Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), due to launch in 2008. Among other things, LRO will make detailed 3D maps of the whole Moon using a state-of-the-art camera and a laser. Its view of the swirls should be breathtaking.

Another NASA instrument, the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, is hitching a ride to the Moon onboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, also due to launch in 2008. Using an infrared spectrometer, "M-cubed" will survey the lunar terrain and tell us in fantastic detail what minerals are in the ground. The whole Moon will be surveyed--including swirls.

What are swirls made of? Are they truly flat? How does the cream differ from the coffee? Questions to ponder over your next cup of joe….


Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production Editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA


More Information
Lunar swirls, magnetic anomalies and the Reiner Gamma Formation -- by Marvin W. Huddleston

Reiner Gamma swirl: magnetic effect of a cometary impact? -- an alternate explanation for one swirl

Chandrayaan-1 -- India's first mission to the Moon

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter -- this robotic scout will survey the Moon to prepapre for future human landings

Lunar Orbiter II -- one of the first spacecraft to obtain up-close images of lunar swirls

Lunar Prospector -- In the 1990s, magnetometers onboard this NASA spacecraft surveyed the Moon, confirming and expanding the results of the Apollo 15 and 16 subsatellites.

Optical Maturity and Magnetic Studies of Lunar Swirls -- by C.G. Hughes et al.

Apollo subsatellites -- facts and figures

The fine scale lunar magnetic field -- a review of Apollo subsatellite measurements


The Vision for Space Exploration


Source: Science@NASA

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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