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Topic: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

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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Rocket Lab gets NASA Contract to Launch CubeSat to Moon from Virginia

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected Rocket Lab of Huntington Beach, California, to provide launch services for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat.

Rocket Lab, a commercial launch provider licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, will launch the 55-pound CubeSat aboard an Electron rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. After launch, the company’s Photon platform will deliver CAPSTONE to a trans-lunar injection.

Part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Launch Complex 2 is Rocket Lab’s second launch site for the Electron rocket. Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat mission to the Moon from the Virginia launch site in early 2021. (Rocket Lab)

Part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Launch Complex 2 is Rocket Lab’s second launch site for the Electron rocket. Rocket Lab will launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat mission to the Moon from the Virginia launch site in early 2021. (Rocket Lab)

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NASA Pathfinder CubeSat to orbit Moon in same orbit projected for Gateway

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has awarded a $13.7 million contract to Advanced Space of Boulder, Colorado, to develop and operate a CubeSat mission to the same lunar orbit targeted for Gateway – an orbiting outpost astronauts will visit before descending to the surface of the Moon in a landing system as part of NASA’s Artemis program.

The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) is expected to be the first spacecraft to operate in a near rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon.

Highly elliptical, a near rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon takes advantage of a precise balance point in the gravities of Earth and the Moon and creates a stability that is ideal for long-term missions like Gateway. (Advanced Space)

Highly elliptical, a near rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon takes advantage of a precise balance point in the gravities of Earth and the Moon and creates a stability that is ideal for long-term missions like Gateway. (Advanced Space)

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NASA study reveals Earth’s Moon has active, changing surface

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the Earth’s Moon formed vast basins called “mare” (pronounced MAR-ay) over a billions of years ago. Scientists have long assumed these basins were dead, still places where the last geologic activity occurred long before dinosaurs roamed Earth.

But a survey of more than 12,000 images reveals that at least one lunar mare has been cracking and shifting as much as other parts of the Moon – and may even be doing so today. The study adds to a growing understanding that the Moon is an actively changing world.

New surface features of the Moon have been discovered in a region called Mare Frigoris, outlined here in teal. This image is a mosaic composed of many images taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). (NASA)

New surface features of the Moon have been discovered in a region called Mare Frigoris, outlined here in teal. This image is a mosaic composed of many images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). (NASA)

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NASA Goddard Technologists and Scientists Prepare for a New Era of Human Exploration

 

Written by Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA scientists, engineers, and technologists are preparing for a new era of human exploration at the Moon, which includes a new launch system, capsule, and lunar-orbiting outpost that will serve as the jumping-off point for human spaceflight deeper into the Solar System.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is playing a vital role in these initiatives, particularly in the areas of communications and instrument development as evidenced by the recent award of five proposals under NASA’s Development and Advancement of Lunar Instrumentation (DALI) to advance spacecraft-based instrument for use in lunar-landing missions.

The technologies needed for sustainable exploration at the Moon will have to be powerful, multipurpose, and fast, said Jake Bleacher, Chief Scientist for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Goddard will provide laser communications services to NASA’s Orion vehicle, shown in this artist concept. (NASA)

Goddard will provide laser communications services to NASA’s Orion vehicle, shown in this artist concept. (NASA)

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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter observes Water Movement on the Moon

 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Using an instrument aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scientists have observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the Moon.

A paper published in Geophysical Research Letters describes how Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) measurements of the sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the surface helped characterize lunar hydration changes over the course of a day.

Up until the last decade or so, scientists thought the Moon was arid, with any water existing mainly as pockets of ice in permanently shaded craters near the poles.

View of the Moon. (NASA)

View of the Moon. (NASA)

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NASA plans Exploration Missions to the Moon

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA is focused on an ambitious plan to advance the nation’s space program by increasing science activities near and on the Moon and ultimately returning humans to the surface.

As part of the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, NASA is planning a new Moon-focused exploration campaign that starts with a series of progressive commercial robotic missions.

Commercial robotic landers and more to be in NASA's new Moon Exploration Campaign. (NASA)

Commercial robotic landers and more to be in NASA’s new Moon Exploration Campaign. (NASA)

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NASA reports the Moon’s Water maybe widely distributed across the Surface

 

Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A new analysis of data from two lunar missions finds evidence that the Moon’s water is widely distributed across the surface and is not confined to a particular region or type of terrain. The water appears to be present day and night, though it’s not necessarily easily accessible.

The findings could help researchers understand the origin of the Moon’s water and how easy it would be to use as a resource. If the Moon has enough water, and if it’s reasonably convenient to access, future explorers might be able to use it as drinking water or to convert it into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel or oxygen to breathe.

If the Moon has enough water, and if it's reasonably convenient to access, future explorers might be able to use it as a resource. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

If the Moon has enough water, and if it’s reasonably convenient to access, future explorers might be able to use it as a resource. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team invites public to wave at the Moon during Total Solar Eclipse

 

Written by Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) team invites the public to wave at the Moon on Monday, August 21st, 2017 as LRO turns its camera toward Earth.

The LRO Camera, which has captured gorgeous views of the lunar landscape and documented geologic activity still occurring today, will turn toward Earth during the total solar eclipse on August 21st at approximately 2:25pm EDT (11:25am PDT) to capture an image of the Moon’s shadow on Earth.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has observed solar eclipses from its vantage point at the moon before. The image LRO takes of Earth on Aug. 21, 2017, is expected to look similar to this view, which the satellite captured in May 2012. Australia is visible at the bottom left of this image, and the shadow cast on Earth's surface by the moon is the dark area just to the right of top-center. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University)

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has observed solar eclipses from its vantage point at the moon before. The image LRO takes of Earth on Aug. 21, 2017, is expected to look similar to this view, which the satellite captured in May 2012. Australia is visible at the bottom left of this image, and the shadow cast on Earth’s surface by the moon is the dark area just to the right of top-center. (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University)

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NASA looks into Tethering Two CubeSats to study Swirl Patterns on the Moon

 

Written by Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A novel mission concept involving two CubeSats connected by a thin, miles-long tether could help scientists understand how the Moon got its mysterious “tattoos” — swirling patterns of light and dark found at more than 100 locations across the lunar surface.

NASA’s Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies, or PSDS3, program recently selected a team at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to further develop a mission concept called the Bi-sat Observations of the Lunar Atmosphere above Swirls, or BOLAS. The study, led by Goddard Principal Investigator Timothy Stubbs, could lead to the first tethered planetary CubeSat mission, Stubbs said.

This artist’s drawing shows how two CubeSats, connected by a miles-long tether, would gather measurements on the moon. (NASA)

This artist’s drawing shows how two CubeSats, connected by a miles-long tether, would gather measurements on the moon. (NASA)

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