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Topic: Apollo 15

NASA reflects Laser Beams to Moon and Back

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Dozens of times over the last decade NASA scientists have launched laser beams at a reflector the size of a paperback novel about 240,000 miles (385,000 kilometers) away from Earth. They announced today, in collaboration with their French colleagues, that they received signal back for the first time, an encouraging result that could enhance laser experiments used to study the physics of the universe.

The reflector NASA scientists aimed for is mounted on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), a spacecraft that has been studying the Moon from its orbit since 2009.

Artist's rendering of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA says Apollo 12, Mars 2020 are Two of a Space Kind

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says fifty years ago today, during their second moonwalk, Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr. and Alan Bean became the first humans to reach out and touch a spacecraft that had previously landed on another celestial body.

NASA’s 1969 Apollo 12 Moon mission and the upcoming Mars 2020 mission to the Red Planet may be separated by half a century and targets that are 100 million miles apart, but they share several mission goals unique in the annals of space exploration.

“We on the Mars 2020 project feel a special kinship with the crew of Apollo 12,” said John McNamee, Mars 2020 project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

(Left) Apollo 12 astronaut Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. stands beside NASA's Surveyor 3 spacecraft; the lunar module Intrepid can be seen in the distance. Apollo 12 landed on the Moon's Ocean of Storms on Nov. 20, 1969. (Right) Mars 2020 rover, seen here in an artist's concept, will make history's most accurate landing on a planetary body when it lands at Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

(Left) Apollo 12 astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr. stands beside NASA’s Surveyor 3 spacecraft; the lunar module Intrepid can be seen in the distance. Apollo 12 landed on the Moon’s Ocean of Storms on Nov. 20, 1969. (Right) Mars 2020 rover, seen here in an artist’s concept, will make history’s most accurate landing on a planetary body when it lands at Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter helps researchers discover Volcanoes on the Moon younger than expected

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Back in 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts orbiting the Moon photographed something very odd. Researchers called it “Ina,” and it looked like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption.

There’s nothing odd about volcanoes on the Moon, per se. Much of the Moon’s ancient surface is covered with hardened lava. The main features of the “Man in the Moon,” in fact, are old basaltic flows deposited billions of years ago when the Moon was wracked by violent eruptions. The strange thing about Ina was its age.

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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter discovers younger than expected Volcanic Activity on the Moon

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has provided researchers strong evidence the moon’s volcanic activity slowed gradually instead of stopping abruptly a billion years ago. Scores of distinctive rock deposits observed by LRO are estimated to be less than 100 million years old.

This time period corresponds to Earth’s Cretaceous period, the heyday of dinosaurs. Some areas may be less than 50 million years old.

“This finding is the kind of science that is literally going to make geologists rewrite the textbooks about the moon,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The feature called Maskelyne is one of many newly discovered young volcanic deposits on the Moon. Called irregular mare patches, these areas are thought to be remnants of small basaltic eruptions that occurred much later than the commonly accepted end of lunar volcanism, 1 to 1.5 billion years ago. (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

The feature called Maskelyne is one of many newly discovered young volcanic deposits on the Moon. Called irregular mare patches, these areas are thought to be remnants of small basaltic eruptions that occurred much later than the commonly accepted end of lunar volcanism, 1 to 1.5 billion years ago. (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

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NASA to launch Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) to study Twilight Rays on the Moon

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Back in the 60s and 70s, Apollo astronauts circling the Moon saw something that still puzzles researchers today. About 10 seconds before lunar sunrise or lunar sunset, pale luminous streamers would pop up over the gray horizon. These “twilight rays” were witnessed by crew members of Apollo 8, 10, 15 and 17.

Back on Earth, we see twilight rays all the time as shafts of sunlight penetrate evening clouds and haze.  The “airless Moon” shouldn’t have such rays, yet the men of Apollo clearly saw them.

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Powerful Pixels: Mapping the “Apollo Zone”

 

Written by Jessica Culler
NASA’s Ames Research Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMoffett Field, CA – Grayscale pixels – up close, they look like black, white or grey squares. But when you zoom out to see the bigger picture, they can create a digital photograph, like the one of our moon below:

For NASA researchers, pixels are much more – they are precious data that help us understand where we came from, where we’ve been, and where we’re going.

At NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, computer scientists have made a giant leap forward to pull as much information from imperfect static images as possible. With their advancement in image processing algorithms, the legacy data from the Apollo Metric Camera onboard Apollo 15, 16 and 17 can be transformed into an informative and immersive 3D mosaic map of a large and scientifically interesting part of the moon.

Mosaic of the near side of the moon as taken by the Clementine star trackers. The images were taken on March 15th, 1994. (Credit: NASA)

Mosaic of the near side of the moon as taken by the Clementine star trackers. The images were taken on March 15th, 1994. (Credit: NASA)

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Mystery of the Lunar Ionosphere

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – How can a world without air have an ionosphere? Somehow the Moon has done it.

Lunar researchers have been struggling with the mystery for years, and they may have finally found a solution.

But first, what is an ionosphere?

Every terrestrial planet with an atmosphere has one. High above the planet’s rocky surface where the atmosphere meets the vacuum of space, ultraviolet rays from the sun break apart atoms of air. This creates a layer of ionized gas–an “ionosphere.”

Dust grains floating above the lunar surface are ionized by solar UV radiation.

Dust grains floating above the lunar surface are ionized by solar UV radiation.

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