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Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 15 Oct 2016 22:50

ISRO to practice Moon Landing in ‘no-fly zone’ in Bengaluru for Chandrayaan-II mission
by Rohan Ganguly, Tecake.in October 6, 2016

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In order to help Indian space scientists overcome the challenges of landing on Moon and Mars, researchers will fly a small aircraft breaching the ‘no fly zone’ rules over Bengaluru. What’s striking is that the aircraft will carry a special payload of country’s second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-II. The aircraft will drop the payload over a scooped out area in order to mimic lunar surface with large craters and check whether the scientists can successfully touch down the surface.

Moon contains over 1.8 lakh craters and each of them has a diameter of over 1km which makes it difficult for scientists to land the rover on a plane surface. Scientists at ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) will conduct several critical tests to ensure landing takes place on even surface before the commencement of second lunar mission. “This is the first time we are going to attempt to land on the Moon, so we want to be meticulous with our computation and technology,” said officials from ISRO. The lunar rover will monitor surface of Moon and it will rely on the Orbiter High Resolution Camera (OHRC) for accurate inputs. The rover weighs 20kg and harnesses the power from Sun. Scientists has given it wheels to move on rugged surface.

During the same time when ISRO tests the landing of aircraft, DRDO will test Rustom-II which is an advanced Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR). It will be maiden test flight which will take place at a different part of the 8,000 acre campus. This medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV has a range of 250 km, and the capability to carry weapons as well as fly non-stop for five-six hours. Rustom-II boasts synthetic aperture radar (SAR) which will enable the UAV to see through the dense clouds. Space scientists said the orbiter would circle the Moon at an altitude of 100 km with five instruments onboard. Three of these would be new, while two others would be improved versions of ones flown onboard Chandrayaan-I. The orbiter would help beam scientific data garnered by the rover from the Moon’s soil.

Website: http://tecake.in/news/science/isro-prat ... 24337.html

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby deejay » 15 Oct 2016 23:49

^^^ Wow! It mentions test of Rustom II also.

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 16 Oct 2016 12:52

We take more risks as we push the boundaries: TeamIndus’s Rahul Narayan
by Leslie D'Monte Livemint.com, September 22, 2016

Rahul Narayan, ‘fleet commander’ on TeamIndus—India’s only entrant in the Google Lunar XPrize moon landing competition—on his role and the challenges he faces
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Rahul Narayan, fleet commander, TeamIndus. Photo: Abhishek BA/Mint

Mumbai: Rahul Narayan calls himself Fleet Commander of Team Indus. In an interview, he speaks about his role and the challenges of landing a spacecraft on the moon. Excerpts:

How did you muster confidence to register for the Google Lunar XPrize without any background in aerospace on aeronautics?
If I had a background in aeronautics, I would not have picked up this project. It’s the whole rookie problem—getting solutions when you look at problems. The original idea was to join another team and build the software for them—as an external supplier or an internal resource. But there were no such opportunities. I even inquired with my friends in the aerospace industry. Hence, a bunch of folks with absolutely no background in aerospace got into this programme to see how it plays out. It wasn’t a hollow bet, though, because we had to pay an upfront sum of $50,000 to register.

What do you hope to achieve from this mission?
The idea is to make space travel and exploration sustainable by reducing time and costs. What we are doing is bringing down the costs by an order of magnitude, less than what it can cost Nasa to do. For us, the total cost will be $60-70 million while for Nasa, it will cost around $600-700 million. Government cost structures are radically different than what they are for private agencies. Nasa is in a developed country, so the costs are higher. Third, since we are a start-up, we take more risks as we push the boundaries. A space agency can’t do that. If we think there is a better, faster and cheaper way of doing a specific task, we will do it—whether it is about building a sub-system, testing it three or five times, two instead of three models, etc.—all this helps in reducing costs dramatically.

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The spacecraft houses a cube with the names of all who were part of Million2Moon, the main rocket engine, sixteen thrusters, a propellent tank, an oxidiser tank, the TeamIndus MoonRover codenamed ECA, commercial payload, experimental payload and an experiment designed by students as part of Lab2Moon.

Do you recall any setbacks? What were the learnings?
Plenty. For instance, we were also shortlisted for the Camera Prize along with the Milestone Prize. However, we sort of outsourced the development of the camera for the project. The camera did not live up to the quality standards, and hence we could not win that prize. We could have raised an additional $0.25 million had we also won the Camera Prize. That was indeed a setback but we also learnt that we cannot outsource what we need to do personally. You can get pieces done, but as a programme manager and system integrator, you need to be on the top of things. We don’t have resources like say a SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp., founded by Elon Musk) or Isro. The best way of controlling time and quality is when aluminium enters one end of the factory and a rocket comes out from the other end. We do not have this leverage. Hence, we now insist on on-site work and maintain a very close eye on the work—for example, there are 400 bolts on the lander—what if a single one is loose or vibrates? There is no room for error.

What’s your biggest success till date?
I see someone like Nandan (Nilekani) signing up for this project as a huge success for us. This was one of the single-most, impactful fundraising successes we had till date. Working with Dr (K.) Kasturirangan (former Isro head) was also a huge success when talking about acceptance in the space ecosystem. When it comes to outreach, Lab2Moon is a huge success even though we still have to see how this project eventually pans out.

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The all aluminium, four wheel drive, all terrain rover - codenamed ECA

Did you ever dream about landing on the moon when you were young?
I had a reasonably happy upbringing. My father worked with NTPC. My mother was a homemaker. I used to break a lot of stuff—starting from the cheapest buzzer at home to my bike. I knew how to rip everything apart but would always be at a loss when fixing those things rightly. School was great—we had access to computers in Class IV or V. We, then, had Commodore computers (the Commodore 1530 [C2N] Datasette) and programs were written on tapes. In Class VI (1985-86), we received pamphlets about the Apple (Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment) spacecraft and that was very exciting because it was built out of India.

There was no goal in mind at that point in time. At college, I got to play with bigger machines and I dismantled just about every electronic gadget I saw and tried to reassemble it. That’s the age when you moved away from toys to understanding how, for instance, IC (internal combustion) engines work. The idea was to look at the world and see how problems could be handled better. I had chosen computer science. It was a good learning point for me

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Do you now count yourself as someone who understands the aerospace industry well enough?
I have been told not to use this term but I will still use it—I see myself as someone who is hacking technology and using technology differently. We use a lot of learnings, for instance, from the automobile industry in aerospace. That is my sense of hacking. I don’t think I’m an aerospace expert and may not be one for a long time. I’m still standing on Isro’s shoulders but I do understand the subject (aerospace) now, and I can point out or look at the problems and the solutions. As a complete outsider, you think you can do everything differently. But once in, you realize that there is a lot of thought behind what goes in.

Website: http://www.livemint.com/Science/06WEJrJ ... ss-Ra.html

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby Rahul M » 16 Oct 2016 14:02

I am moving this thread to Tech-Econ.

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 16 Oct 2016 15:17

ISRO plans lab on moon to dig into its soil composition
by Yazhiniyan Dtnext.in, August 21, 2016

In yet another big step in its history, the Indian Space Research Organisation has planned to set up a chemical laboratory to analyse the composition of Moon.

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Mylswamy Annadurai talking to newsmen in Thoothukudi

Thoothukudi: Conveying this to newsmen at Thoothukudi, on Saturday, Mylswamy Annadurai, Project director of Chandrayan I and II, said that the proposed lab would be set up on the surface of the moon by Chandrayan-II. Annadurai, who was in the Pearl City for a private college function said that Chandrayan-II would be launched towards the end of 2017 or at the beginning of 2018 through GSLV. Chandrayan-II would establish a chemical research laboratory on the moon to conduct spot study on samples collected from the lunar surface.

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Chandrayaan-2 Moon based Research Station

The important feature of the facility on the moon was that it would function for just 14 days but the period would be more than sufficient to collect and analyse the samples. When asked about the timeframe of 14 days, he explained that though there would be 14 days and 14 nights during the period, the temperature during night would be way below the minimum level and hence the lab would not be able to survive. However, Chandrayan-II would be orbiting around the moon for a period of one year. Initially Chandrayan-II project was planned as a joint venture with Russia, but now ISRO had decided to launch the satellite on its own and hence it would completely be an indigenous mission, he added.

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Soft-landing scenario on lunar surface. Copyright: ISRO

Regarding the future projects, the project director said that it might be a busy schedule for the space giant as it would do 70 launches, approximately two missions every month, in the next three to four years. In fact, from next month there would be three missions every month. In September INSAT-3DR would be launched followed by GSAT-8 in October and Resourcesat-2A in November. In the last 12 months, from August 2015 to August 2016, 10 satellites were put in space.

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Rover deployment from the lander after landing on the lunar surface. Copyright: ISRO

Touching upon a social issue, the ace scientist made an appeal to impart primary education to children in their respective mother tongue. This would create a strong foundation in them when it comes to science and technology, Annadurai opined. KKNPP Site Director, Sundar, was also present during the press meet.

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Chandrayaan-2 rover is being tested at IIT-Kanpur

LUNAR CHEMISTRY
Proposed facility to be set up on lunar soil during Chandrayan II mission.
The laboratory to be at work for 14 days.
Limited timeframe due to temperature at nights on the moon.
Chandrayan II to orbit around moon for an year

Website: http://www.dtnext.in/News/City/2016/08/ ... sition.vpf

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 16 Oct 2016 23:48

Russian cosmonauts are preparing to land on the MOON: Roscosmos begins lunar landing trials in 1970s simulator
by Abigail Beall Dailymail.co.uk September 21, 2016

Russia's plan to conquer the moon has started to take shape. The agency has started a series of experiments to simulate the conditions astronauts, according to the nation's space agency Roscosmos. This is in preparation of the country's plans to permanently station 12 cosmonauts on the lunar surface in 2030.

RUSSIA'S PLANS TO CONQUER THE MOON
Russia hopes to launch a lunar probe in 2024 to scout out colony locations, before landing humans on the moon in 2030. The moon base will be used for research and mining of precious minerals - but some suggest it may also have a military purpose. At first the moon base will be manned by no more than four people, with this number later rising to between 10 and 12 people. The base will be powered by a sub-surface energy station, near one of the moon's poles. A fallout shelter will also be installed underground, helping to shield the crew from both radiation and any nuclear attacks. Russia plans to complete the moon mission using six separate launches of the upcoming Angara rocket. Each launch will send a new module to the moon, creating the base piece by piece, in a similar way to how the ISS was put together. Assembly of the moon base is expected to take more than ten years.

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Russia's plan to conquer the moon has started to take shape. The agency has started a series of experiments to simulate the conditions astronauts, according to the nation's space agency Roscosmos

Researchers are using a unique platform simulating the moon’s gravity, built by RSC Energia in the early 1970s. The test will determine how easy it would be for cosmonauts to walk on the lunar surface and get out of a rover vehicle. 'We conduct these experiments in order to see if there’s anything we can recommend to the system developers in terms of streamlining work on the moon,' said Alexander Polishchuk, company’s deputy head of research in a statement. 'After all, the moon is not an easy place to walk in a spacesuit - it will require special means of transportation or rovers.' The new simulation experiments bring the nation a step towards reaching its aim of making a permanent base for astronauts on the moon. Russia hopes to launch a lunar probe in 2024 to scout out colony locations, before landing humans on the moon in 2030. 'Their goal is to get acquainted with the work of human conditions on the moon, and to evaluate the human potential,' said Alexander Kaleri, from RSC Energia. After getting a clear view of the big picture, experts will move on to logistics and streamlining before starting on designs for permanent lunar bases, rovers, runway facilities, and other important aspects of the mission.

The moon base will be used for research and mining of precious minerals - but some suggest it may also have a military purpose. At first the moon base will be manned by no more than four people, with this number later rising to between 10 and 12 people. The base will be powered by a sub-surface energy station, near one of the moon's poles.

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In the 1960s the Soviets began developing their own designs for a manned mission to land on the moon with its N1-L3 Lunar Lander (left). However, the project never flew and was eventually cancelled. Earlier this year the European Space Agency said it planned to work with Russia on its mission to land on the moon (bottom)

A fallout shelter will also be installed underground, helping to shield the crew from both radiation and any nuclear attacks. Overall, Russia plans to complete the moon mission using six separate launches of the upcoming Angara rocket. Each launch will send a new module to the moon, creating the base piece by piece, in a similar way to how the ISS was put together. Assembly of the moon base is expected to take more than ten years. Russia's first manned flight to the moon could possibly happen in 2029, according to the head of Russia's state-controlled Rocket and Space Corporation Energia.

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The launch of Angara-A5 heavy booster at Plesetsk Cosmodrome on December 23, 2014 in Arkhangelsk Region, Russia. Several launches of this rocket will help Russia build a manned base on the moon

Vladimir Solntsev, president of RSC Energia, which is 38 per cent owned by the Russian state, made the predictions at a space technology conference in Moscow in October last year. Separately, Russian company Energia last month revealed draft plans for an 11.4 tonne reusable spacecraft that will take cargo and cosmonauts onto the lunar surface within five days. The 'Ryvok' project was announced in May at the Human Space Exploration international conference in Korolev, near Moscow. The shuttle will be sent on the ISS by Soyuz ships and Angara rockets. Prior to the lunar mission, another launch to the space station would send an 'accelerator block' to act as fuel for Ryvok. This makes the flight dramatically cheaper as instead of a needing a rocket, all that could be needed is a spacecraft and fuel to lift passengers to low-Earth orbit. When returning from the near-moon orbit, Ryvok would open an 'umbrella' of 55 square meters for braking in the Earth atmosphere. Currently Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, which are built by RSC Energia, are the only vehicles capable of sending humans into space.

PROBLEMS DELAY LAUNCH OF CREW TO ISS
Technical problems today prompted Roscosmos to postpone the launch of its next manned Soyuz spaceship to the International Space Station (ISS) which was scheduled for Friday, Russian news agencies reported. A new date for the launch has not yet been set, the RIA news agency cited the space agency, as saying. Russia's Soyuz spaceships are currently the only means of sending crews to the multinational ISS.

Website: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... lator.html

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 18 Oct 2016 08:51

TeamIndus confident that it will soft land on moon by 2017
By Rashmi Menon, TNN September 18, 2016,

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Narayan shares with his experience of listening to Dr Buzz Aldrin (second man on the moon), on places he would like to visit in the galaxy and his love for Star Trek

When Google Lunar XPrize launched its competition, participation by a private Indian team was seen with a mixture of disbelief and awe.In fact, one of their earlier investors asked, "What were you smoking?" From the germ of an idea five-and-a-half years ago, today, TeamIndus is confident that it will soft land on the moon by 2017-end. The journey hasn't been easy, says Rahul Narayan , team lead of Axiom Research Labs (TeamIndus's parent company). But every time the team was "running out of steam, whether because of technology, funding, partnerships, alliances," it got the support it needed at the right time. "We have faced considerable pain, but have always found something to pull us back up," said Narayan, during a phone conversation from Bengaluru.

When asked which team he considers competition, he says, "The Israeli team has sufficient momentum to potentially beat us to the moon when it comes to timing." Narayan shares with his experience of listening to Dr Buzz Aldrin (second man on the moon), on places he would like to visit in the galaxy and his love for Star Trek.

Everyone feels it's an audacious project. Do you feel there are limitations?
The limit comes from execution, and not necessarily imagination. There are questions that a founder needs to ask -how much are you willing to risk, what are you willing to give up? If you can answer them, you will find the motivation. A lot of people aren't really able to follow through. That is where a lot of dreams trip over life and you think it's probably not worth this much of time or effort.

So, what are the things you have given up?
A few things. This (TeamIndus) was out of my comfort zone. I gave up the thought of being secure. Also, the idea is so out of the box, that I had to be ready to fall on my face and still be okay. And finally the time put in; time is the biggest currency anybody has. The whole risk of putting in a disproportionate amount of money even before things started. We thought we will wrap up in five years. It's five and-a-half years, and though we are more confident, we don't have the final thing yet.But we believe it's the last lap.

How many submissions have you received for the Lab2Moon competition?
We have received applications from about 2,000 students from 10 countries. The aim is to look for ideas, whether those are directly useful to us or not is not relevant.(The competition allows youngsters between 14 and 25 years to come up with prototypes to help sustain life on the moon, and the best ones will get space on the TeamIndus spacecraft.)

Any anecdote about your well-known investors?
We pitched to Nandan Nilekani twice. The first time we said we were going to the moon in 15 months. The only question he asked was, `Where are you right now?' He realised that we didn't have a clue about the execution and the time needed. We were better prepared the next time. He gave us 15 minutes, which stretched into an hour. We were honest with him. That was the meeting that converted him into an investor. If you are upfront and clear in your thinking, everybody understands, as it's not a regular path.

he moon landing just completed its 47th anniversary. During your trip to the US, did you meet anyone from the Apollo 11 mission?
I have met folks who were part of the engineering team. I also had the privilege of listening to Dr Buzz Aldrin during XPrize's 10th anniversary celebrations in LA. I remember thinking that in this world of selfies, here is the man who probably took the first selfie and that too in space! This was when he went aboard the GeminiBSE 2.19 % 12 in 1966. I also met his son, Dr Andy Aldrin.

You are a huge fan of Star Trek. Who is your favourite character?
Star Trek was so far ahead of its time with its ideas, purported technologies, culture and much more. The character of Spock with his mysterious background and objective thinking was a delight to follow. And you can't follow Star Trek without thinking of Captain Kirk as your own captain.

Where would you like to go in the galaxy?
Phobos and Deimos (Mars' moons) are where interesting discoveries are waiting to happen. It would also be interesting to figure out if the Saturn rings really have a hidden wormhole (theory floated in Interstellar).

So, what next? Mission Mars, perhaps?
The moon is widely expected to become the staging base ground for future forays into `deeper' space. I see TeamIndus working closely with global scientific communities and space agencies to make the moon's surface a regular service. In the process, we expect to hone our technology, engineering and operational capabilities. Once we have demystified the moon, the next target will be Mars.

Website: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/sma ... 391077.cms

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 19 Oct 2016 08:51

Google Lunar XPRIZE’s Team HAKUTO Signs a Joint Research Agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
by TOKYO, JAPAN (PRWEB) SEPTEMBER 08, 2016

Team HAKUTO, the Japanese Google Lunar XPRIZE Team managed by ispace technologies Inc., announced today that it has signed a joint research agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to investigate radiation on the Moon.

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Hakuto PFM 3 rover pre-flight model


JAXA will conduct collaborative research on a privately led space exploration mission for the first time to obtain space radiation data in lunar transfer orbit and on the surface.


Moon Mission: Hakuto robot rover undergoes testing in Japan ahead of lunar travel

The Google Lunar XPRIZE is an international lunar robotic competition that challenges privately-funded space exploration teams to land an unmanned spacecraft on the surface of the Moon by the end of 2017. To win the competition, the rover must also travel for more than 500 meters and send high-definition videos and images back to Earth. Team HAKUTO, who recently announced its official project name as the “au HAKUTO MOON CHALLENGE” after partnering with the Japanese carrier KDDI, is now developing its flight model after completing a number of design and engineering improvements.

In this joint research project, Team Hakuto will demonstrate its capability of real-time radiation monitoring with its lightweight lunar micro-rover. By comparing simulated results with the actual data obtained by the rover, JAXA plans to improve the accuracy of its simulation method for future lunar missions. Presently, there is limited radiation data from the lunar transfer orbit and the surface. In an effort to learn more about the radiation environment on the Moon, HAKUTO’s rover will be equipped with a very light and portable space radiation monitor, an instrument that has been modified from commercial products.

This is the first time JAXA has agreed to conduct joint research on a privately led space exploration mission and as a result JAXA has now become Team HAKUTO’s Supporting Company. With this agreement as a starting point, Team HAKUTO and JAXA will explore a new form of privately led space activities.

About Team HAKUTO
Team HAKUTO, run by the Japanese startup ispace technologies Inc., is the only Japanese team competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The team is comprised of various members including: the members of ispace, Tohoku University, and Pro-Bono experts from various fields. HAKUTO was awarded a Mobility Milestone Prize from Google Lunar XPRIZE in January 2015. For more information, please visit http://team-hakuto.jp/en/ or @team_hakuto_en.

About JAXA
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is designated as a core performance agency to support the Japanese government's overall aerospace development and utilization. In 2013, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its founding, JAXA created the corporate slogan, "Explore to Realize," which reflects its management philosophy of utilizing space and the sky to achieve a safe and affluent society. JAXA became a National Research and Development Agency in April 2015, and took a new step forward to achieve optimal R&D achievements for Japan, according to the government's purpose of establishing a national R&D agency. please visit http://global.jaxa.jp/ or @JAXA_en

About the Google Lunar XPRIZE
The $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth, before the mission deadline of December 31, 2017. For more information, please visit http://lunar.xprize.org/ or @GLXP.

Website: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/09/prweb13667887.htm

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 20 Oct 2016 00:00

Turns Out, the Moon Gets a New Surface Every 81,000 Years
by Jelor Gallego Futurism.com October 19, 2016

IN BRIEF
Scientists discovered new information about how much activity actually happens on the lunar surface.
By studying an area just 6.6% of the Moon's surface, scientists found 222 craters – 33% more than previous models have indicated.

SHIFTING SURFACES
Scientists are excited about the possibility of studying Mars, the moons of Jupiter, and even exoplanets. But before all of these, we first studied our closest neighbor, the Moon. From age-old Moon myths to actual landing on its surface, we may have unearthed everything there is to know about our closest celestial neighbor.

But not quite. Using data from NASA, scientists discovered new information about how much activity actually happens on the lunar surface – information that might be important if we ever want to build an actual Moon Base.

The team was comparing images from the Apollo missions in the 70s with new images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. They were trying to find the rate of formation of younger, smaller craters.

By studying an area just 6.6% of the Moon’s surface, they found 222 craters that appeared after the LRO took its first pictures. That’s 33% more than previous models have indicated, meaning there is far more activity on the lunar surface we previously thought.

Image
NASA

Extrapolated, that data means that the top two centimeters of the lunar surface gets completely churned every 81,000 years, far faster than the 10 million years previous models predicted.

ORBITAL BOMBARDMENT
This data is important since lunar models become the basis of how we estimate the age of other similar bodies in the solar system. Also, this method helps better approximate the ages of specific sections of the lunar surface.

NASA reports that this study will have bearing on how lunar habitats will be built. They will have to withstand not only the lunar elements, but also direct bombardment from falling rocks and the debris from nearby lunar impacts.

“The increased churning rate will be important information for future designers of moon bases, said Emerson Speyerer, leader of the study, to NASA. “Surface assets will have to be designed to withstand impacts from small particles moving at up to 500 meters per second.”

Website: http://futurism.com/turns-out-the-moon- ... 000-years/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby UlanBatori » 20 Oct 2016 03:52

Looks like Le Mars Eurbiter de Oiropienne c'est kaput.

No signal after entering atmosphere, hours later. Now seeking any record of impact from other orbiters like Mongol-Yawn.

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 20 Oct 2016 08:35

China Wants the Moon. But First, It Has to Spend a Month in Space
by Emma Grey Elllis Wired, October 19, 2016

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The Long March-2F rocket carrying Shenzhou 11 manned spacecraft blasts off from launch pad on October 17, 2016 in Jiuquan, China

ON MONDAY, AT a launch center in the middle of the Gobi desert, two taikonauts boarded a spacecraft and rocketed into space. Yesterday their ship, Shenzou-11, docked with China’s experimental space lab, Tiangong-2. For the next 30 days—China’s longest crewed space mission—they will conduct experiments, test equipment, practice repairs, try to grow plants, and keep track of how the space environment affects their bodies. Sound familiar, space fans?

It should. Tiangong-2 is like a baby International Space Station. Sure, it doesn’t have the ISS’s scale, technological sophistication, or multi-national backing. But it’s the technical testing ground for the grown up space station China plans to launch in the next couple of years. Which will more permanent, and about the size of Mir, the Soviet Union’s space station in the 80s and 90s. But mostly, Tiangong-2 an important part of China’s long term plan to build a Moon base. And from there, it’ll be hard to deny China a seat at the space superpower table. Like everything China does, people consistently underestimate the nation’s space program. Common snubs include: It’s miles behind the curve; their gear is all Russian knockoffs; their launch schedules are hopelessly slapdash. Yeah, those have all been true at one point, but not an honest assessment of the program as it currently stand.

China did not launch its first satellite until the 1970s, and didn’t really invest heavily in their space program until the early ’90s (the Cultural Revolution was a bigger priority) but they’ve been gaining ground on the US and Europe ever since. Early on, the nation’s program relied on Russia, both for components and training for their would-be taikonauts. And the Shenzhou spacecraft do resemble Soviet (now Russian) Soyuz. But don’t hate: “The Shenzhou is the same idea, but not a copy,” says Jonathan McDowel, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “In its present form, it’s very much a Chinese vehicle.” The Chinese spacecraft is bigger, more powerful, and its forward habitation module has solar panels that can provide power for a separate mission—even after the astronauts climb aboard Tiangong-2.

Slapdash? Anything but. “This is not a fly-by-night program,” says Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College. “They’re just taking a very different approach than the US did. We launched a lot. They only launch every three years or so, but take a very big step forward with each launch.” The Chinese announced their manned spaceflight program in 1992 as an incremental three step process: First, send someone on a non-fatal, roundtrip space journey, which they did in 2003. Like any trilogy, the second act is where things get exciting. Part two of China’s program is what’s happening now—launch some space labs and develop advanced spaceflight capabilities like orbital docking. Last is getting permanent structures out into orbit, like that space station we mentioned earlier. And sometime after that, the Moon.

China ramping up its space program has some people worried, and that’s understandable. China’s space program is run by the People’s Liberation Army, and has always had a strong military bent. “It would not surprise me if during this month-long mission, the taikonauts were used to do observations of military interest amongst their scientific experiments,” McDowell says. It’s not like US astronauts have never been agents of the military. But really, the US is unusual in that its military and civil space programs are fairly distinct. For those with reason to be concerned by such things, China’s space program has a few concerning military projects—looking at you, spy satellites and anti-satellite missiles—but the very un-weaponized space station probably isn’t one of them.

The notion that China is a burgeoning space superpower is harder to deny. “This is the pivot year in the Chinese space program,” McDowell says. “They’ve got lots of hardware coming through the pipeline, and are now preparing to switch over to a new generation of rockets.” A Long March 2F launched Monday’s spacecraft, but China expects to start test flying the Long March 5 in early November. Newer, bigger rockets will allow China to launch that bigger space station. The next generation, heavy lift Long March 5 rocket is powerful enough to get a craft to the Moon. According to McDowell, Chinese taikonauts are likely to reach that destination by the late 2020s. “China’s human spaceflight program is ticking off everything America and Russia did in the space age,” McDowell says.

And while China developing manned spaceflight prowess isn’t a pressing security threat, it does stand to rebalance the global powers. “Having your own space station, flying somebody to the moon, that’s what big countries do,” says John Pike, a prominent military analyst and director of GlobalSecurity.org. “It unambiguously demonstrates that China has stood up and wants to be taken seriously as a rising power.” Crewed spaceflight is basically a prestige move. It doesn’t have the direct economic benefits of something like GPS (or China’s version, BeiDou). The probable reason China wants people in space—and why some people get huffy about China’s space station or Moon ambitions—is because it gives them a shot at unseating NASA as Earth’s premier space power player. “We’ve taken careful aim and shot ourselves in the foot,” says Johnson-Freese. “There’s a perception that the US is floundering and underfunded, and European astronaut wannabes are learning Chinese.”

To be fair, China is still about 20 years behind the US in terms of spacecraft automation, sophistication, and reliability. According to McDowell, at the ‘where no one has gone before’ limits of the field, the US, Europe and perhaps Japan are still the real power players. But as China continues to advance at gathering speeds, it sure seems like another space race might be in order.

Website: https://www.wired.com/2016/10/china-wan ... nth-space/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 20 Oct 2016 22:40

Scientists Study the Moon to Learn About Dinosaur Killing Asteroid Impact
by Jay Bennett Popularmechanics.com October 20, 2016

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NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

The craters on the moon are more pristine than any on Earth, so scientists are using lunar craters to learn about the Chicxulub crater—the terrestrial remnant of an asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago. The Chicxulub crater, a 102-mile diameter crater in the Yucatán Peninsula of southeastern Mexico, is the result of a six-to-nine-mile-wide asteroid slamming into the Earth. This same asteroid triggered the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event that caused the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of all plant and animal life on the planet, to go extinct. The Chicxulub crater is actually underneath the Yucatán Peninsula, and roughly half of it is submerged beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Buried under a kilometer of rock, dirt, sand and water, the Chicxulub crater is rather difficult to study directly.

Fortunately for planetary geologists, the Schrödinger crater on the moon, though twice as big, is remarkably similar to the Chicxulub crater on Earth. Both have an inner circle of mountains called a peak ring that formed at the time of impact within the crater rim. (The Schrödinger crater rim has a diameter of about 200 miles, while the inner peak ring's diameter is about 90 miles.

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Artistic interpretation of the formation of the Schrödinger impact basin on the moon near the end of the basin-forming epoch ~3.9 billion years ago when the moon was closer to Earth. This basin was produced during a period of late heavy bombardment that resurfaced both the moon and Earth (Daniel Durda/IAAA)

The Schrödinger lunar crater is clearly visible, pristine on the surface of the moon for researchers to study with remote sensing techniques. Data from two spacecraft, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and India's Chandrayaan-1, were used to create an accurate computer model of the impact at Schrödinger on the moon. A research paper detailing the findings was published this morning in Nature Communications. "If one wants to imagine how the Chicxulub crater looked soon after impact, one only needs to peer at the Schrödinger basin on the moon," said head of the research team, David Kring of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

The researchers found that the impact that created the Schrödinger crater pulled rock up from an incredible 18.5 miles below the surface and hurled it up to about 12.5 miles in altitude, or more than twice the height of Mount Everest. The rock hovered there momentarily before collapsing into the peak ring we see today. This entire process occurred in about an hour. "Imagine a mountain range, rising 2.5 kilometers (8,000 feet) high, with a circumference of about 470 kilometers (290 miles)," says Kring. "That is an immense amount of rock to lift from depths of 10 to 25 kilometers within an hour. In contrast, tectonically-driven mountains may take millions of years to rise."

On Earth, 66 million years ago, a similar impact formed the Chicxulub crater and wiped out the dinosaurs. However, the same rapid uplifting process that took an hour on the moon happened in just minutes on Earth, thanks to our planet's higher gravity pulling the material back down once it had been tossed up by the asteroid impact. "This is an excellent example of how studies of the moon can help us better understand our own planet Earth," said Kring, who adds that further observations of the Schrödinger crater would be highly useful for models that represent how planets form during the constant bombardment of their early lives. "Studies identify the Schrödinger basin as one of the highest priority destinations for future explorers."

It is likely that we soon send a rover to the peak ring inside Schrödinger basin, which is made of rock from deep within the moon, shoved to the surface by a massive asteroid impact some 4 billion years ago.

Website: http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/m ... id-impact/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 21 Oct 2016 08:33

Russia Plans to Revive Lunar Rover Moon Exploration Program - Reports
by Sputnik International October 21, 2016

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The Russian Academy of Sciences' Space Council has plans to revive a moon exploration program using lunar rovers, Russian media reported, citing a laboratory head from the academy's Space Research Institute.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to the Izvestia newspaper, there are plans to start work on the design of a spacecraft in 2016 within the framework of the Luna-Lunokhod project.

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"Yes, the decision on the Luna-Lunokhod project has been made and work is about to begin," Igor Mitrofanov, the head of nuclear planetology research at the Space Research Institute, was quoted as saying by the newspaper Thursday.

Mitrofanov said that prior to the start of the project, the Space Council's decisions were to be discussed at the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos where a work plan was developed and contracts were prepared. After Roscosmos deals with its part, the Space Research Institute will gather a team to work on the project. Other institutes will also be invited to participate, according to Mitrofanov. Around 18 million rubles ($290,000) are reportedly expected to be spent on the work on the project in 2016.

Website: http://sptnkne.ws/c43D

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 22 Oct 2016 13:33

Russia to Spend $60Mln in 2016-2018 to Fund Space Voyages to Moon, Mars
by Sputnik International June 24, 2016

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Russian Moon Base to Hold Up to 12 People (SPUTNIK/ ANTON DENISOV)

The project to create a nuclear-power transport module, intended to fly to the moon and Mars, will receive 3.81 billion rubles ($60 million) in funding in 2016-2018, according to the public procurement website.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The decision to design space transport powered by a megawatt-class nuclear power unit was made in 2010. As reported, the technical solutions embodied in the concept of transport and energy module will allow to solve a wide range of space tasks, including research programs on the moon and distant planets as well as establishing automated bases on them.

The idea to use nuclear engines on spacecraft is not new, a decision to develop nuclear rocket engines was adopted by the USSR in the 1960s. Similar research took place in the United States but was later suspended. The new project involves the use of ionic electric jet engines, in which the jet thrust is created by accelerating the electric field of the ion flux. The nuclear reactor delivers the electric current required for this process, and radioactive substances do not make contact with the external environment. It is assumed that xenon will be used as the working fluid in the engine.

Website: http://sptnkne.ws/c43R

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 22 Oct 2016 22:41

The Moon Has Its Own Paparazzi
by Laura Mallonee Wired October 22,2016

FOR SEVEN YEARS, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has circled the moon, hovering just miles above its pock-marked surface. And every day, the craft’s on-board camera snaps over 600 photographs of the satellite’s craters, dunes, and mountains, helping scientists understand lunar geology and topography. But that’s not the only reason to photograph the moon.

“It’s also just because [the images] are beautiful,” says Mark Robinson, the lead scientist running the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. “They show the grandeur of the moon, what landscapes look like on another world that’s only three days away.”

All images NASA/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER/ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
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This photograph of the moon’s South Pole captures its varying elevations in different colors. The low-lying deep blue and purple area is the Aitken Basin, the moon's biggest impact crater.

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The moon looks black and white to the naked eye. But the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera's filters show its true colors.

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This image of the moon was taken at noon, a time when you can see subtle differences in the moon’s surface brightness. The dark material is volcanic mare basalt, which formed from lava during the moon’s early history.

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A section of the Linne crater, shown with topographic contours that scientists derived using a digital terrain model.

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Scientists rephotograph the same areas on the moon to find new craters and other changes to the surface.

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An oblique view of the mountains in the Plasket crater near the moon's north pole.

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The Sun never rises very high above the horizon at the Moon’s poles. The long shadows make mapping this region difficult.

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One of the moon’s crater’s, photographed in vivid detail.

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The moon’s pole’s are largely shrouded in darkness on the moon’s poles, making mapping difficult. This map of the moon’s south pole was made from thousands of images taken throughout the lunar year. It shows what percent of a year each area is sunlit.

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This image shows the central peak in the Tycho crater.

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This large collapsed area shows lava flows. Scientists say the absence of impact craters and steep sides suggest they erupted relatively recently.

Of course, cameras aboard spacecraft like the Apollo and Clementine delivered gorgeous moon photos back to Earth decades ago. But in 2004, when President George W. Bush ordered NASA to return to the moon, no mission had photographed it in great detail from pole to pole. Robinson knew photography would be crucial for identifying landing sites, so he and a team pitched NASA on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. By July 2009, it was firing away.

The spacecraft orbits the moon 12.7 times a day, providing plenty of photo ops. The system includes a wide-angle camera, small enough to fit in a backpack, that photographs in seven colors at a moderate resolution of 328 feet per pixel. Two much bigger narrow angle cameras, each over four feet long, together amount to a 500-megapixel camera. They see 4,000 shades of gray at a resolution as high as 1.6 feet per pixel—high enough to capture the shadow of the flag Neil Armstrong planted—with shutter speeds as fast as .34 milliseconds. (Timing is critical when you’re barreling 3,600 miles per hour through space.)

No one’s sitting aboard the spacecraft to snap the photos, obviously. Instead, the system has targeting software that predicts the spacecraft’s flight path and schedules about 95 percent of its shots. Robinson’s favorite automatically-targeted images are temporal pairs, in which the spacecraft rephotographs an area if the lighting is similar to an existing photograph. A whopping 70 percent of those twinned shots unveil new impact craters and other changes to the lunar surface.

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The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Wide Angle Camera. IMAGE BY ERIC LONG, NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

The coolest images, though, are carefully planned out by Robinson’s team. “It’s really fun to think, ‘OK, in a week, we’re flying over a really fantastic beautiful spot on the moon, say the Bruno Crater,’” Robinson says. “‘What would it look like if we flew the spacecraft over 60 degrees and got a view of it in these lighting conditions?’”

Robinson and his crew send bundled three-day command loads every day to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, which uploads them to the spacecraft. Sometimes they schedule two staggered photographs of the same place to create a 3D stereo image. They can also tilt the spacecraft 60 or 70 degrees on its side for an oblique shot—like what you’d see out the window of a plane. “Those are much more easy to relate to on a human sense,” Robinson says. “You get a much more immediate sense of the landscape.”

The images come back to Earth through a Ka-band antenna in White Sands, New Mexico. And while Robinson’s day-to-day involves endless paperwork and meetings, he always makes time to process certain manually targeted images himself. He removes electronic noise from the raw files and sends them off for parallax distortion correction. When they come back, he tinkers with them in ISIS editing software to stretch the 12-bit images down to 8-bit tiffs. Then he prints them out, passes them around the office, and sometimes hangs them up in the hallway.

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Mark Robinson serves as Principal Investigator for the LROC.CHARLIE LEIGHT/ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

“I’ve been doing this seven and a quarter years, and it still knocks my socks off when the image comes up on the screen,” he says. “It’s really spectacular.” The camera’s photographs have shown geological features like thrust faults that indicate the moon is shrinking, as well as volcanic craters that suggest the moon’s volcanic activity is about 1.4 billion years younger than previously thought. And of course, the incredibly detailed maps and images it has produced have also given astronauts a good idea of where to land when they finally return.

Now all that’s left is to go back. Over 60 images from the LROC are on view in the exhibit A New Moon Rises at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

Website: https://www.wired.com/2016/10/the-moon- ... paparazzi/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 23 Oct 2016 20:14

Making Moon Missions happen. Twice over
by N Srinivasa Hegde Yourstory.com October 22, 2016

Srinivasa Hegde, Mission Director, TeamIndus, on putting together his first sojourn to the Moon – the Chandrayaan-1, of which he was Mission Director.
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It is difficult to believe that it has been eight years since India launched its first mission to orbit the Moon. The October 22, 2008, was a proud day for me. As I sit at the cusp on another mission to the Moon, I cannot help but remember the journey that led to the historical orbital mission that India send to the Moon.

From what I remember, Chandrayaan – 1 was the outcome of a third ISRO committee appointed to explore if India can mount an interplanetary mission of this nature. This committee was headed by Dr George Joseph, a very senior name in ISRO, and one of its members was an earlier boss of mine, K Thyagarajan. One day, out of the blue, Thyagarajan took me aside and asked me, “How is your health?” That was his way of broaching the subject on a new assignment. He asked me if I am interested in attending a meeting on sending a mission to the Moon. When I said I certainly was, he invited me to a meeting at the ISRO HQ with nearly 25 senior people.

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(From right) Rahul Narayan, CEO, Axiom Research Labs with N Srinivasa Hegde, Mission Director, and NC Bhat, Mechanisms and Structures Advisor. Hegde and Bhat are former ISRO Engineers

In that meeting, Dr K Kasturirangan, then the chairman of ISRO who is now one of the biggest supporters of the TeamIndus Moon Mission, gave an inspirational speech. He talked about how India will soon be a super power and how the country needed to think even bigger in space. This was in the late 90s and he was talking about how we had to start work on it right then to make it happen over the next decade.

We got to work soon and submitted an initial report on how we can put this mission together. We said that with a payload mass of around 1050kg, this was a meaningful mission that could be launched with the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). Thyagarajan had become the project director and I became part of the team and its Mission Director. Interplanetary missions are handled by a small group of dedicated people who live through the project. That was the case here as well.

The next few years were spent on putting the programme together. With the Moon Impact Probe factored in as additional payload, the mission mass increased and the launch team was pushed to their limits to make it happen. We had initially planned for a launch in the December of 2008, but we decided to go earlier and launched in October. I was at the Mission Control centre in the outskirts of Bengaluru. It was a proud moment for all of us to see the Mission becoming a successful one over the next few weeks.

Now, I am the Mission Director of the TeamIndus Moon Mission. TeamIndus is doing something never attempted before by ISRO - soft landing on the Moon - and we need to get it right on the first try. Most space agencies in the world don’t design zero margin of error missions on their first try, but we are pushing the limits doing just that here.

I am often asked why a country like India should mount a Moon mission. I have thought deeply about it and one of the reasons that I feel strongly about is that many a time countries who have access to resources, tend to form a club and keep everyone else away from it. Moon is a fantastic source for many valuable resources including Helium 3, which can take care of the energy needs of all mankind. We have to be there, not just because we humans are explorers, but also because it can help India and humankind lead a more sustainable life. And that is just one reason.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

Webiste: https://yourstory.com/2016/10/making-mo ... ns-happen/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 23 Oct 2016 20:43

On this day in 2008, India successfully launched Chandrayaan 1 to the Moon
by Tech Desk Indianexpress.com October 22, 2016

ISRO's Chandrayaan 1 probe helped scientists discover the widespread presence of water molecules in lunar soil. Chandrayaan 1 mission was launched on top of a PSLV-XL rocket on October 22, 2008, and was India’s first mission to the moon.

On this day eight years ago (October 22, 2008), ISRO launched its first lunar probe atop a PSLV rocket – Chandrayaan 1. Chandrayaan 1 was India’s first mission to the moon and included an orbiter and an impactor probe. Aside from India becoming the fourth nation to place its flag on the moon, the biggest achievement of the mission was the discovery of widespread presence of water molecules in lunar soil.

The Chandrayaan 1 mission was supposed to last two years, but scientists lost communication after just 312 days of operation. Even so, 95 per cent of the missions primary goals were achieved before scientists lost touch with the spacecraft. Chandrayaan 1’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper was able to confirm the magma ocean hypothesis, which suggests that the Moon was completely molten once. The terrain mapping camera on board the spacecraft was able to capture and send back 70,000 3D images of the Moon’s surface, and was even able to record the landing site of NASA’s Apollo 15 mission. Chandrayaan 1 also helped scientists study the interaction of solar winds with a planetary body (like the Moon) without a strong magnetic field.

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India successfully launched Chandrayaan 1 to the moon Eight years Ago today

On November 14 2008, the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) disconnected itself from the orbiter and impacted on the lunar surface near the south pole of the Moon. It was through the data gathered by the MIP that scientists were able to confirm the presence of water in the Moon’s soil. India is already working on a second mission to the moon aptly called the Chandrayaan-2. This time however, the mission includes an orbiter, a lander and a rover that are all being developed in India. The rover will be able to traverse across the lunar surface collecting rock and soil samples for on-site chemical analysis.

Chandrayaan 2 is expected to launch onboard ISRO’s GSLV launch vehicle in 2018. Following the success of its Mars Orbiter Mission, ISRO is also working on Mangalyaan 2 – India’s second interplanetary mission to Mars. The mission is planned for launch in 2020

Website: http://indianexpress.com/article/techno ... n-3096561/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby UlanBatori » 25 Oct 2016 00:18

Don't know where else to post this:

L'Orbiteaure Oiropienne est kaput onlee
Instead of 3km/hour, it landed at 300 km/h, the way they drive in La Paris. :((

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 25 Oct 2016 00:44

Scientist Identify The Source Of The Moon's Water
by Matt Williams Universetoday.com July 21, 2016

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New research finds that asteroids delivered as much 80 percent of the Moon's water. Credit: LPI/David A. Kring

Over the course of the past few decades, our ongoing exploration the Solar System has revealed some surprising discoveries. For example, while we have yet to find life beyond our planet, we have discovered that the elements necessary for life (i.e organic molecules, volatile elements, and water) are a lot more plentiful than previously thought. In the 1960’s, it was theorized that water ice could exist on the Moon; and by the next decade, sample return missions and probes were confirming this.

Since that time, a great deal more water has been discovered, which has led to a debate within the scientific community as to where it all came from. Was it the result of in-situ production, or was it delivered to the surface by water-bearing comets, asteroids and meteorites? According to a recent study produced by a team of scientists from the UK, US and France, the majority of the Moon’s water appears to have come from meteorites that delivered water to Earth and the Moon billions of years ago.

For the sake of their study, which appeared recently in Nature Communications, the international research team examined the samples of lunar rock and soil that were returned by the Apollo missions. When these samples were originally examined upon their return to Earth, it was assumed that the trace of amounts of water they contained were the result of contamination from Earth’s atmosphere since the containers in which the Moon rocks were brought home weren’t airtight. The Moon, it was widely believed, was bone dry.

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The blue areas show locations on the Moon’s south pole where water ice is likely to exist. Credit: NASA/GSFC

However, a 2008 study revealed that the samples of volcanic glass beads contained water molecules (46 parts per million), as well as various volatile elements (chlorine, fluoride and sulfur) that could not have been the result of contamination. This was followed up by the deployment of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) in 2009, which discovered abundant supplies of water around the southern polar region,

However, that which was discovered on the surface paled in comparison the water that was discovered beneath it. Evidence of water in the interior was first revealed by the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter – which carried the NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) and delivered it to the surface. Analysis of this and other data has showed that water in the Moon’s interior is up to a million times more abundant than what’s on the surface.

The presence of so much water beneath the surface has begged the question, where did it all come from? Whereas water that exists on the Moon’s surface in lunar regolith appears to be the result of interaction with solar wind, this cannot account for the abundant sources deep underground. A previous study suggested that it came from Earth, as the leading theory for the Moon’s formation is that a large Mars-sized body impacted our nascent planet about 4.5 billion years ago, and the resulting debris formed the Moon. The similarity between water isotopes on both bodies seems to support that theory.

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Near-infrared image of the Moon’s surface by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper on the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 mission. Credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS

However, according to Dr. David A. Kring, a member of the research team that was led by Jessica Barnes from Open University, this explanation can only account for about a quarter of the water inside the moon. This, apparently, is due to the fact that most of the water would not have survived the processes involved in the formation of the Moon, and keep the same ratio of hydrogen isotopes.

Instead, Kring and his colleagues examined the possibility that water-bearing meteorites delivered water to both (hence the similar isotopes) after the Moon had formed. As Dr. Kring told Universe Today via email:
“The current study utilized analyses of lunar samples that had been collected by the Apollo astronauts, because those samples provide the best measure of the water inside the Moon. We compared those analyses with analyses of meteoritic samples from asteroids and spacecraft analyses of comets.”

By comparing the ratios of hydrogen to deuterium (aka. “heavy hydrogen”) from the Apollo samples and known comets, they determined that a combination of primitive meteorites (carbonaceous chondrite-type) were responsible for the majority of water to be found in the Moon’s interior today. In addition, they concluded that these types of comets played an important role when it comes to the origins of water in the inner Solar System.

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Images produced by the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal features at the Moon’s northern and southern poles, as well as the presence of water frost. Credit: NASA/SwRI

For some time, scientists have argued that the abundance of water on Earth may be due in part to impacts from comets, trans-Neptunian objects or water-rich meteoroids. Here too, this was based on the fact that the ratio of the hydrogen isotopes (deuterium and protium) in asteroids like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko revealed a similar percentage of impurities to carbon-rich chondrites that were found in the Earth’s coeans.

But how much of Earth’s water was delivered, how much was produced indigenously, and whether or not the Moon was formed with its water already there, have remained the subject of much scholarly debate. Thank to this latest study, we may now have a better idea of how and when meteorites delivered water to both bodies, thus giving us a better understanding of the origins of water in the inner Solar System.

“Some meteoritic samples of asteroids contain up to 20% water,” said Kring. “That reservoir of material – that is asteroids – are closer to the Earth-Moon system and, logically, have always been a good candidate source for the water in the Earth-Moon system. The current study shows that to be true. That water was apparently delivered 4.5 to 4.3 billion years ago.“

The existence of water on the Moon has always been a source of excitement, particularly to those who hope to see a lunar base established there someday. By knowing the source of that water, we can also come to know more about the history of the Solar System and how it came to be. It will also come in handy when it comes time to search for other sources of water, which will always be a factor when trying to establishing outposts and even colonies throughout the Solar System.

Refernce: Nature Communications: http://www.nature.com/articles/nature07 ... etoday.com

Website: http://www.universetoday.com/129173/sci ... ns-water/#

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 25 Oct 2016 21:07

ISRO starts landing tests for Chandrayaan-2 mission
by Madhumathi D S TheHindu October 25, 2016

Simulated lunar craters created in Chitradurga to plan Lander’s descent

The Indian Space Research Organsiation started a series of ground and aerial tests linked to the critical Moon landing of Chandrayaan-2 on Friday, at its new site at Challakere in Chitradurga district, 400 km from Bengaluru. ISRO Satellite Centre or ISAC, the lead centre for the second Moon mission, has artificially created close to ten craters to simulate the lunar terrain and test the Lander’s sensors.

A small ISRO aircraft has been carrying equipment with sensors over these craters to plan the tasks ahead. ISRO, along with a host of other scientific and strategic agencies, owns vast land for its future missions at Challakere, in a ‘Science City.’

ISAC Director M.Annadurai told The Hindu, “The campaign for the Lander tests of Chandrayaan-2 has started. Tests are conducted over the simulated craters at Chitradurga. We are using an aircraft to assess whether the sensors on the Lander will do their job [later] of identifying the landing spot on the Moon.” Chandrayaan-2 is tentatively set for late 2017 or early 2018 and includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface.

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‘Complicated task’
Landing on an alien surface is very complicated, said Dr. Annadurai, who was also the Project Director for the successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission of 2008.

In the coming months up to March, ISAC would conduct many tests: on avionics and electronics; testing the Lander’s legs, followed by a combined full test, at Bengaluru and Chitradurga. The mission includes an Orbiter, a Lander and a Rover, all being readied at ISAC in Bengaluru. The Orbiter spacecraft when launched from Sriharikota will travel to the Moon and release the Lander, which will in turn deploy a tiny Rover to roam the lunar surface — all three sending data and pictures to Earth.

Website: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/i ... 262825.ece

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 26 Oct 2016 21:39

The US and Russia are making plans to return to the Moon together
One big, happy lunar family

by Fiona MacDonald Sciencealert.com July 21, 2016

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NASA

It was 47 years ago that NASA won the space race against the Soviet Union, and Apollo 11 astronauts first walked on the Moon.

And now American companies have pitched a series of new plans that would see the country finally return to the lunar surface... this time, alongside the Russians. The collaboration between the two countries isn't entirely surprising - Russia and America have been working together in space since their association on the International Space Station (ISS) first began in 1993.

But with the ISS scheduled to plummet to its watery grave in 2024, the two countries' space agencies have been preparing to part ways and focus on new projects. For NASA, that focus is getting humans on Mars by the 2030s, and the US space agency has made it abundantly clear that it has no intention of returning to the Moon anytime soon - unless the Russian space agency Roskosmos or the European Space Agency (ESA) takes the lead.

But while NASA might not be interested in the Moon specifically, a lot of its plans for getting to Mars involve the area around the Moon (known as cislunar space). For example, step two of the three-step plan involves capturing an asteroid and putting it in orbit around the Moon, so that a crew on board the Orion spacecraft can explore it in the 2020s.

That's why US aeronautical giants such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin foresee demand for the establishment of a lunar base in the near future, and have started pitching the idea to NASA. And in order to pull it off, the companies have pulled in Russian space contractors such as RKK Energia and GKNPTs Khrunichev to consult on the project - forming a cooperation that could work together to build the first functioning lunar base.

Like NASA, the goal for these companies isn't necessarily the Moon itself, but to build a habitat around the Moon that would serve as a stop along the way to Mars. There are several pitches floating around at the moment from the cooperative, so it's not entirely clear how the project would work or what it would involve.

But, as Anatoly Zak explains for Popular Mechanics, the general idea is that the Russians would bring the hardware - specifically, the know-how to build space modules that can house crews and contribute to propulsion. And the Americans will have access to the ridiculously powerful Space Launch System (SLS) that NASA is developing for its mission to Mars - technology that Russia needs if they want to get any kind of space habitat off the ground.

Once the Moon base is in place, the American and Russian companies say that it could be used to study not only the lunar surface, but also the asteroid NASA is planning to drag into the Moon's orbit. "According to one proposal, astronauts and cosmonauts together could attempt a nearly 400-day mission on the surface of the Moon in the late 2020s to simulate a Martian expedition," writes Zak for Popular Mechanics.

"Don't think of it as a space station around the Moon," added William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, in an interview with the magazine. "Think of it as the beginning of the Mars transit system." The latest proposals between the American and Russian companies were presented at an ISS research and development conference in San Diego between July 12 and 14, and NASA will now be looking them over.

But Gerstenmaier made it clear that NASA hadn't commissioned the project, so nothing was guaranteed. "Until we look at them, I can't pass judgment whether they are viable or not," he told Zak. But "it is encouraging that the industry is doing it on its own ... and it is consistent with what we are thinking about, including going to cis-lunar space. ... So when we, the government, decide something to do, the industry has (already) done its homework."

And with political tension building between Washington and Russia once more, let's hope a collaborative space venture might be just what it takes to get everyone working together for a common goal. After all, science has no borders.

Website: http://www.sciencealert.com/the-us-and- ... n-together

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 27 Oct 2016 08:36

The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it’s like a 1960s time capsule
by Keith Collins Qz.com July 09, 2016

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NASA

When programmers at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory set out to develop the flight software for the Apollo 11 space program in the mid-1960s, the necessary technology did not exist. They had to invent it. They came up with a new way to store computer programs, called “rope memory,” and created a special version of the assembly programming language. Assembly itself is obscure to many of today’s programmers—it’s very difficult to read, intended to be easily understood by computers, not humans. For the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), MIT programmers wrote thousands of lines of that esoteric code.

Here’s a very 1960s data visualization of just how much code they wrote—this is Margaret Hamilton, director of software engineering for the project, standing next to a stack of paper containing the software:

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The AGC code has been available to the public for quite a while–it was first uploaded by tech researcher Ron Burkey in 2003, after he’d transcribed it from scanned images of the original hardcopies MIT had put online. That is, he manually typed out each line, one by one. “It was scanned by a airplane pilot named Gary Neff in Colorado,” Burkey said in an email. “MIT got hold of the scans and put them online in the form of page images, which unfortunately had been mutilated in the process to the point of being unreadable in places.” Burkey reconstructed the unreadable parts, he said, using his engineering skills to fill in the blanks.

“Quite a bit later, I managed to get some replacement scans from Gary Neff for the unreadable parts and fortunately found out that the parts I filled in were 100% correct!” he said.The effort made the code available to any researcher or hobbyist who wanted to explore it. Burkey himself even used the software to create a simulation of the AGC:



As enormous and successful as Burkey’s project has been, however, the code itself remained somewhat obscure to many of today’s software developers. That was until last Thursday (July 7), when former NASA intern Chris Garry uploaded the software in its entirety to GitHub, the code-sharing site where millions of programmers hang out these days.

Within hours, coders began dissecting the software, particularly looking at the code comments the AGC’s original programmers had written. In programming, comments are plain-English descriptions of what task is being performed at a given point. But as the always-sharp joke detectives in Reddit’s r/ProgrammerHumor section found, many of the comments in the AGC code go beyond boring explanations of the software itself. They’re full of light-hearted jokes and messages, and very 1960s references.

One of the source code files, for example, is called BURN_BABY_BURN--MASTER_IGNITION_ROUTINE, and the opening comments explain why:

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About 900 lines into that subroutine, a reader can see the playfulness of the original programming team come through, in the first and last comments in this block of code:

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In the file called LUNAR_LANDING_GUIDANCE_EQUATIONS.s, it appears that two lines of code meant to be temporary ended up being permanent, against the hopes of one programmer:

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In the same file, there’s also code that appears to instruct an astronaut to “crank the silly thing around.”

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“That code is all about positioning the antenna for the LR (landing radar),” Burkey explained. “I presume that it’s displaying a code to warn the astronaut to reposition it.”

And in the PINBALL_GAME_BUTTONS_AND_LIGHTS.s file, which is described as “the keyboard and display system program … exchanged between the AGC and the computer operator,” there’s a peculiar Shakespeare quote:

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This is likely a reference to the AGC programming language itself, as one Reddit user pointed out. The language used predetermined “nouns” and “verbs” to execute operations. The verb 37, for example, means “Run program,” while the noun 33 means “Time to ignition.”

Now that the code is on GitHub, programmers can actually suggest changes and file issues. And, of course, they have. One developer submitted an issue saying, “A customer has had a fairly serious problem with stirring the cryogenic tanks with a circuit fault present,” and listed steps to reproduce the problem. “Be aware that this may be hazardous to the tester attempting it,” he added. The responses flooded in.

One user suggested maybe the issue was not with the code, but something else:
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Another took it back to the basics:
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And one developer suggested perhaps the software simply needs to be updated:
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Website: http://qz.com/817784/icelands-pirate-pa ... on-oct-29/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 27 Oct 2016 19:49

U.S. and Russian Scientists Are Making Plans to Go Back to the Moon Together
What U.S.-Russian cooperation in space might look like in ten years: a moon base
By Anatoly Zak Popularmechanics.com July 19, 2016

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American and Russian engineers are getting closer to a new plan for cooperating in space, one that would go beyond low Earth orbit and preserve the multinational alliance forged at the dawn of the International Space Station program in 1993. Organizations on both sides are quietly toying with the idea of going back to the moon together. That is, if politics don't get in the way.

With the ISS scheduled to make a controlled plunge into the ocean in 2024, the partners have been preparing to go their own ways. NASA, while funding companies like SpaceX to go to orbit, is developing the Orion spacecraft and the super-heavy rocket called Space Launch System (SLS) for manned missions into deep space and potentially as far as Mars. The European Space Agency (ESA) jumped on NASA's bandwagon few years ago, agreeing to contribute the service and propulsion module for the Orion. But the second-largest ISS contributor, Russia, has so far remained uncommitted to any joint venture beyond the station.

"DON'T THINK OF IT AS A SPACE STATION AROUND THE MOON. THINK OF IT AS THE BEGINNING OF THE MARS TRANSIT SYSTEM."

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A recent economic crisis in Russia has put a dumper on the nation's space activities. But a bigger problem for cooperation in space may be the souring relationship between Moscow and Washington back on Earth. While NASA and the Russian space agency Roskosmos try to navigate the political minefield, industry engineers on both sides formed their own alliances to look into the matter from the technical prospective.

American aerospace companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, as well as Russia's key manned space contractors RKK Energia and GKNPTs Khrunichev, pitched in on a new plan to work together. Several mission strategies have recently surfaced that focus on a multinational habitat in the vicinity of the Moon, known as cislunar space. It could serve as a platform for the exploration of our natural satellite and a springboard for missions to asteroids and even to Mars.

The two sides seem to understand why they need each other, and how the pieces fit together. For their part, the Russians have mastered the development and operation of space modules that can house crews and provide propulsion for years at a time. Turns out, that's exactly what the U.S. could use. Such a habitat would expand the livable volume for the Orion crews beyond the cramped one-room compartment of the ship's command module, extending the possibilities for missions.

In consultations with their American colleagues, Russians offered a selection of off-the-shelf or soon-to-be-available hardware for constructing the joint deep-space habitat. For example, a small docking compartment built by RKK Energia for the ISS could be easily replicated and converted into a 10-ton add-on for the hypothetical near-lunar habitat, with its own life-support system, sleeping quarters and cargo space. Each piece of an ever-growing base could be launched over a period of several years as cargo that piggybacks on SLS rocket launches. Russian engineers drafted a mini-train of such modules, which would be lined up one by one behind an unmanned space locomotive, providing propulsion and 150 kilowatts of electric power.

Alternatively, Russia could supply an all-in-one module for the new base that would have power, propulsion, and large living quarters for the crew. It is based on the most advanced Russian module, which is being developed as a potential cornerstone of the future Russian space station in the Earth's orbit. The drawback? A nearly 24-ton spacecraft will require a dedicated SLS rocket to boost it toward the Moon, leaving no room for the Orion or its crew on that launch.

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An artist rendering of the near-lunar station built around a 24-ton Russian-built module.

Russia would get plenty out of the deal, too. Without American cooperation, has no chance of getting a rocket comparable to SLS until 2030, even under the best circumstances. Just to get to the moon, Russia devised a cumbersome scheme involving four launches of the yet-to-be-built Angara-5V rockets. If SLS works as planned, then the Americans could provide Roskosmos an easy ride to the vicinity of the Moon a decade earlier.

Why build a new base near the moon? Joint US-Russian teams could use remote control to drive robotic geology rovers on the surface of the Moon. The habitat could be used to study an asteroid brought into the vicinity of the Moon. Potentially, a piloted lander could be added to the mix, opening door to the human lunar landing. According to one proposal, astronauts and cosmonauts together could attempt a nearly 400-day mission on the surface of the Moon in the late 2020s to simulate a Martian expedition.

Yet these are only big ideas for now. The newest proposals for American and Russian cooperation were just presented at an ISS research and development conference in San Diego last week (July 12-14). Exactly where the base would go an who would take what responsibility is still up for grabs. In the aftermath of the event, William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, told Popular Mechanics that the agency welcomes the industry efforts, but warned that they had not been commissioned or endorsed at NASA.

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SLS rocket NASA

"Until we look at them, I can't pass judgment whether they are viable or not," Gerstenmaier said. But, "it is encouraging that the industry is doing it on its own… and it is consistent with what we are thinking about, including going to cis-lunar space. … So when we, the government, decide something to do, the industry has (already) done its homework." Gerstenmaier also emphasized the potential provided by near-lunar missions for venturing much further into space, rather than exploring the Moon itself: "Don't think of it as a space station around the Moon. Think of it as the beginning of the Mars transit system."

When beefed up to a right level of power, life-support and propulsion, the international vehicle could leave the lunar vicinity and head to asteroids or Mars. "These modules are fairly versatile: you put power, you put right thermal system on them and you can use them in a wide variety of applications," Gerstenmaier explained. (According to the current US policy, NASA sees no need to return to the surface of the Moon, however the agency is open to cooperation if its partners, such as Roskosmos or ESA, take a lead in the lunar landing.)

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A lunar lander could make sorties to the surface of the Moon from a near-lunar space station Boeing

NASA will have to make a decision on the possible architecture and design of the future deep-space habitat within a year or two, in order to build all the necessary hardware by the time the Orion spacecraft comes out of flight testing in the first half of the 2020s.

Website: http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/m ... moon-plan/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 28 Oct 2016 19:36

Q&A: China lunar chief plots voyage to far side of moon
By Dennis Normile Sciencemag.org July 21, 2016

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Wu Weiren

As chief designer for the China National Space Administration's (CNSA’s) Chang'e lunar exploration program, Wu Weiren oversaw the Chang’e-3 mission that in late 2013 landed and released a rover on the moon's surface—the first soft touchdown on Earth’s satellite since a Soviet mission in 1976.

Two even more ambitious missions are on the way as China continues its rapid ascent in space science. Next year, Chang'e-5 will land, scrape up surface soil and rocks, drill down 2 meters for samples, and return the haul to Earth, all within 2 weeks or so. In 2018, CNSA, which runs the lunar program, will attempt the first ever landing on the far side of the moon. Remote observations of the far side’s geology have convinced some planetary scientists that it is the most accessible location in the solar system to study planetary accretion, crust formation, and the effects of impacts. An engineer, Wu concedes that engineering has priority in China’s lunar program: Without solid engineering, he says, scientific objectives cannot be realized.

The interview, conducted at CNSA headquarters in Beijing, was edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: Is Chang'e-3 still making observations?
A: It is. It has been functioning for more than 30 months. It has already fulfilled completely its scientific and engineering missions and is currently working overtime, conducting scientific observations, and testing [spacecraft components] for endurance.

Q: What is the schedule for Chang'e-5? Is the landing site on the moon's Ocean of Storms?
A: Chang'e-5 will be launched next year. We can't be too specific because of various factors but let's say the second half of next year. The Ocean of Storms is a big [region]. We don't want to duplicate [the Russian and U.S.] landing locations. So we're choosing in this [region] but with some consideration for an unprecedented landing site. From the launch until the samples return to Earth would be about a couple dozen days.

Q: Regarding Chang'e-4, is it correct that there will be a communications relay satellite launched in June 2018, and then the Chang'e-4 spacecraft itself with its rover launched before the end of 2018?
A: It is roughly correct. It depends very much on various factors when to launch this mission. But we are pretty sure it will be conducted by the year 2018. The mission includes a relay satellite, a lander, as well as a rover.

Q: Chang'e-4 was developed as a backup to Chang'e-3, with a lander and rover. Will the scientific instruments be similar?
A: We do not want to duplicate [the Chang'e-3] effort. So Chang'e-4 will have new instruments and upgraded instruments. In terms of categories, the first would be topography, to see the overall landscape of the moon. The second category would be geology, to further explore the geologic characteristics of the [moon]. The third category would be astronomy, observing the universe, and also solar activity, from the far side of the moon. [That will be] unprecedented.

Q: Will there be a Chang'e-6?
A: It is the Chinese practice to make redundant missions. Chang'e-6 is a backup for Chang'e-5. Once Chang'e-5 achieves complete success, the mission of Chang'e-6 will be redefined. [Launch] won't happen for a few years after Chang'e-5.

Q: Which has been more important: advancing your technological capabilities or the scientific objectives?
A: Engineering objectives have always been given priority in our lunar missions. We have to guarantee that we can access space, access a lunar orbit, and the lunar surface to realize the scientific objectives. We look carefully at our engineering objectives and the competences that we have and then based on that we design our scientific objectives.

Website: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/07/ ... -side-moon

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 30 Oct 2016 12:56

Interview: Initiating a New Space Age with TeamIndus
by Press Release Spacewatchme.com October 23, 2016

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The U.S.$30M Google Lunar XPRIZE is an unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a privately funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 metres and transmits high-definition video and images back to Earth, before the mission deadline of 31 December 2017.

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Julius Amrit, Co-Founder of TeamIndus

In this interview series, SpaceWatch Middle East is taking a closer look at the Lunar XPRIZE competitors. In this exclusive interview, we speak to Julius Amrit, Co-Founder of TeamIndus, the only Indian team in the competition. The team is building a privately funded spacecraft capable of soft landing on the Moon by 2017.

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You are participating in the Google Lunar X-Prize (GLXP), and you are ranked as one of the potential winners of the competition. Can you give us a brief overview about your entire mission? Are you going for a one time mission or a sustainable commercial repeatable mission?
TeamIndus came about in response to the GLXP in 2010, a global competition which required privately funded teams to build and land a spacecraft on the Moon. It’s a huge moonshot and we’ve had our share of challenges. Our first validation came when the competition organizers instituted the Terrestrial Milestone Prize in 2014. We were one of the few teams who qualified for the prize. GLXP had an independent jury of 9 scientists from across the world – from space agencies like NASA, ESA, JAXA etc. who came and validated out technology and risk mitigation strategy and awarded us $1M towards the Landing Prize.

This was a major turning point in our journey as this proved to everyone around us that we could not only conceptualize but also execute this mission successfully from 1st principles. The way we are building this mission is very lean and focused primarily on achieving the goals of the competition. The processes and technology we come up with can be applied to future missions as well and hopefully make travel to the Moon as economical as possible.

We are targeting a launch late in 2017, aboard the PSLV, the workhorse launch vehicle of the Indian Space Research Organization. The PSLV would leave us in a lower earth orbit, and from there our spacecraft will continue its journey from Earth to Moon. This journey would take about 20 days. The toughest part of the journey is the soft landing on the lunar surface. Our spacecraft needs to do this part of the journey completely autonomously and needs to have limited hazard avoidance and precision landing capability.

What effect do you think the explosion of the Falcon 9 on 1 September 2016 will have on your project’s chances, as well as on the industry as a whole?
Space is about the absolute cutting edge of engineering. What happened on the Falcon 9 was unfortunate, but we are sure that this won’t be anything more than a mere bump in the road for SpaceX and the industry. Specifically, to our project, it has no impact, as we are not a SpaceX customer.

According to open-source information you will use PSLV, if we are not mistaken. What is the status of your launcher?
We are in the final stages of negotiations with the commercial arm of ISRO. You should hear from us very soon!

Can you tell me more about your spacecraft and how it operates?
The four-legged spacecraft will be designed and built in India, with a supplier network from around the world. Our main focus has been efficiency both in terms of cost and performance. We have designed and built a number of components in-house instead of buying them off the shelf and that has helped us innovate while keeping costs low. Systems such as the on-board computer, communication and power management systems have all been built in the campus. Our team of scientists and engineers are writing landing and flight software in house as well. The spacecraft will carry our rover, a few experiments including the winning experiment of our Lab2Moon youth challenge and will also carry commercial payload.

Do you have a confirmed launch date and can you disclose the launch window?
The launch will take place in December 2017.

Reaching the moon is one element, the other one will be landing. Where is your landing site? Any specific plans? What will you do there?
Our choice will be Mare Imbrium, also called the Sea of Showers. We would like to think of it as a possible Moon-port in the future for humanity, considering the relatively flat topography. Two missions have already landed in and around the area and that means we do have information that will help us as we design our spacecraft and the rover. Once we land, the rover would be deployed and we will be beaming high definition media back to earth

What is the commercial and scientific impact of your mission? What are your expectations in terms of reputation and national pride? Education?
One of the experiments that we will be carrying to the Moon would be the winner of our Lab2Moon challenge, where we will be a giving a chance for independent payload to go to the Moon for the first time since the 1970’s. The experiment, which will be adjudicated by an international jury, will look to find sustainable ideas to catalyze human evolution into a multi-planetary species.

As you know, there are only three countries that have soft landed on the moon. To take India and its 1.2 billion strong population to the moon would be a huge moment for the country and we are looking forward to making it happen. This will be India’s Apollo moment, catalyzing interest in science education. We have been interacting with schools regularly as part of our outreach to make sure that children are inspired by our mission.

What will happen if you don’t win? A valid question as the competition enters its final phase. Will you proceed with your mission even if you don’t win it?
While we are in it to win it, we believe that the journey itself is an immense privilege. The learning, knowledge and experience accruing from taking up this mission can be used in many related areas. The GLXP Mission and our success in building up the technology for mission will be the foundation for all our future endeavours. That said, we are in it to win it.

Why do you think the commercialization of space is possible?
To answer this question let me draw a parallel. The Internet started out as a government project. But it really came into itself and changed the world as we know it when it intersected with people, ideas and enterprise. We expect that same to happen with space.

Let me ask you a personal question. Why are you doing this and what inspired you to start your Mission to the Moon?
The fact that no Indian team was participating motivated us to come together, form a team and register for the GLXP, despite the fact we have no background in aerospace. It is all about getting space enthusiasts together other than government entities, creating an opportunity for aerospace research and push the boundaries of space exploration in India

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The Team Indus team. Photograph courtesy of Team Indus.

On a more philosophical level, I believe that the evolution is about species learning more, exploring more and dreaming more. We are a group of ordinary people who dreamed up this extraordinary mission steadfast in the belief that Moon is just a stepping stone to the next level of human evolution.

SpaceWatch Middle East thanks Julius Amrit, Co-Founder of TeamIndus, for the interview.

Website: http://spacewatchme.com/2016/10/intervi ... teamindus/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 30 Oct 2016 23:05

Why The Moon Should Never Be Terraformed
by Bruce Dorminey Forbes.com July 27, 2016

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Bruce Dorminey

Although a growing number of commercial and scientific concerns have big plans for the Moon, our achingly desolate nearest neighbor should never be terraformed into something earthlike. Instead, it should forever be preserved as testament to our solar system’s grand and mysterious past.

While it only seems proper that it should be developed into the kind of permanent commercial, scientific and/or mining base of which Arthur C. Clarke used to dream, with each passing year, it becomes ever clearer that the Moon still has much to teach us about our inner solar system. And, if so, it should be preserved with what Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin described as its ‘magnificent desolation’ intact.

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Apollo 17 in the Taurus Littrow Valley. Credit: NASA

After all, the current paradigm is that our Earth and a -sized planetary impactor, dubbed Theia, collided more than 4.5 billion years ago. Out of this collision, the Moon coalesced in Earth orbit, then suffered the slings and arrows of our inner solar system’s epoch of Late Heavy Bombardment. That is, a period of heavy planetary impacts spanning a 300 million-year epoch beginning some 4 billion years ago that led to the formation of many of the Moon’s large impact basins that still characterize its surface. It’s here in such impact basins that the Moon’s rich scientific history lies waiting to be harvested.

“I find the whole concept of “terraforming” to be ludicrous, an example of hubris on a planetary scale,” Paul Spudis, a planetary scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston, told me. “We don’t fully understand how the Earth works and we are going to create a second one?”

But that doesn’t preclude enclosing lava tubes; setting up permanent bases; manufacturing and 3-D printing operations, as well as surface-based robotic telescopes. Still, that’s a far cry from the Moon losing its signature stark, gunpowder-gray surface to some sort of terraformed melange of artificiality.

And why bother terraforming the Moon?
A society capable of efficiently terraforming a body as large as the Moon could just as easily construct L5-type space habitats in cislunar space. That is, in the orbital volume between Earth and the Moon. However, there may be a few legal impediments to lunar terraforming.

Thus far, restrictions and legalities regarding human activities on the lunar surface as outlined by the international community in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and the Moon Agreement of 1979 appear to have few teeth.

“Within the context of terraforming, there is no clear-cut prohibition for sure, just some general and very broad boundaries to what would be possible,” Frans von der Dunk, a professor of space law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told me. “But there is also no certainty that other countries and players might not try to argue differently and make a political issue out of it.”

However, until the vast technical hurdles that such lunar terraforming might encounter can be overcome, the legalities are largely moot. “The Moon’s low gravity would create problems for atmospheric retention,” said Spudis. “But even worse, the Moon has no global magnetic field to hold off solar wind erosion of the atmosphere and protect the surface from radiation.”

And there’s also a striking philosophical reason to keep it as it is. The Moon is the most accessible astronomical object in our night skies. As such, it serves as a regular reminder of just how unpredictable and serendipitous our cosmos, indeed our own inner solar system, appears to be.

For no matter how geologically and scientifically significant the Moon may be, it has never and will never naturally harbor complex life. If someone comes along and changes all that through terraforming, it would be a marvel, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea. For without the Moon’s inhospitabitableness in full view each night, we might just begin taking life here for granted.

Website: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedormin ... rraformed/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 31 Oct 2016 14:21

Reaching For The Moon: Indian Space Startup Aims For Global Prize
by Divyanshu Dutta Roy Ndtv.com October 31, 2016

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Team Indus is sending a rover to the moon to win the coveted Google Lunar XPRIZE.

BENGALURU: By this time next year, as India celebrates Diwali, a different kind of rocket will be aiming for the skies. Team Indus, a privately-funded group of individuals, wants to be India's first to send a rover to the moon. And they hope to do so by the end of next year.

Besides the bragging rights that follow the path-breaking feat, the coveted Google Lunar XPRIZE is also at stake. Announced in 2007, the competition offers a $20 million-prize to the first privately funded team to land a robot on the moon that successfully travels more than 500 meters and transmit back high-definition images and video.

"The organisers have a very simple two-line problem statement: land on the moon before 31st December 2017, move 500 metres send back evidence that you have done so. (And) you have to do it while being 90 per cent privately funded," says Rahul Narayan, Founder and CEO of Team Indus. The goal is to encourage start-ups and private enterprises to enter "the one industry that has not been disrupted by startups" which is aerospace, he says.

A diverse group of around 100 people formed in 2011, Bengaluru-based Team Indus aims to send an orbiter, a lander and a rover to the moon before end of 2017. "We have managed surprisingly (to bring) some of the brightest scientific minds to come under one roof," says Sheelika Ravishankar, the chief of marketing at Team Indus.

Even though the team has several scientists formerly associated with the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO, several key members have no formal background in aerospace engineering including bankers. "I think it's almost a precondition that if you had a background in aerospace you'd probably never take up something like this," says Mr Narayan.

Website: http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/reaching ... ze-1586633

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 31 Oct 2016 20:56

Research helps explain formation of ringed crater on the moon
Phys.org October 27, 2016

Image
Free-air gravitational anomalies and shaded topographic relief of the moon's 930-km-diameterOrientale impact basin. Red corresponds to mass excesses and blue to mass deficits relative to areference value. This gravitational field model, based on measurements acquired from the NASAGRAIL mission, shows the detailed structure of the central basin depression that is filled with densemare basalts, as well as the rings that formed due to gravitational collapse of the initial crater cavityshortly after the impact. The shaded relief map, from a digital elevation model from the laser altimeteron the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the SELENE Terrain Camera, is rendered with thevirtual sun just after sunrise at Orientale, a day after the full moon. Credit: Ernest Wright, NASA/GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio

Using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, scientists have shed new light on the formation of a huge bull's-eye-shaped impact feature on the Moon. The findings, described in two papers published in the journal Science, could help scientists better understand how these kinds of giant impacts influenced the early evolution of the Moon, Mars and Earth.

Formed about 3.8 billion years ago, the Orientale basin is located on the southwestern edge of the Moon's nearside, just barely visible from Earth. The basin's most prominent features are three concentric rings of rock, the outermost of which has a diameter of nearly 580 miles. Scientists have debated for years about how those rings formed. Thanks to targeted close passes over Orientale by the twin GRAIL spacecraft in 2012, mission scientists think they've finally figured it out. The GRAIL data revealed new details about the interior structure of Orientale. Scientists used that information to calibrate a computer model that, for the first time, was able to recreate the rings' formation.

"Big impacts like the one that formed Orientale were the most important drivers of change on planetary crusts in the early solar system," said Brandon Johnson, a geologist at Brown University, lead author of one of the papers and a co-author of the other. "Thanks to the tremendous data supplied by GRAIL, we have a much better idea of how these basins form, and we can apply that knowledge to big basins on other planets and moons." In one of the Science papers, a research team led by MIT's Maria Zuber, a Brown Ph.D. graduate, performed a detailed examination of the data returned by GRAIL.

"In the past, our view of Orientale basin was largely related to its surface features, but we didn't know what the subsurface structure looked like in detail. It's like trying to understand how the human body works by just looking at the surface," said Jim Head, a geologist at Brown, GRAIL science team member and co-author of the research. "The beauty of the GRAIL data is that it is like putting Orientale in an x-ray machine and learning in great detail what the surface features correspond to in the subsurface."

One of the key mysteries the data helped to solve involves the size and location of Orientale's transient crater, the initial depression created when the impactor blasted material away from the surface. In smaller impacts, that initial crater is left behind. But in larger collisions, the rebound of the surface following the impact can sometimes obliterate any trace of that initial impact point.

Some researchers had thought that one of Orientale's rings might represent the remains of the transient crater. But the GRAIL data showed that's not the case. Instead Orientale's gravity signature suggests the transient crater was somewhere between its two inner rings, measuring between 200 and 300 miles across. Any recognizable surface remnants of that crater were erased by the aftermath of the collision.

Image
Orientale basin is about 580 miles (930 kilometers) wide and has three distinct rings, which form a bullseye-like pattern. This view is a mosaic of images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Constraining the size of the transient crater enabled to team to estimate how much material was blasted out of the surface during the collision. The team calculates that about 816,000 cubic miles of rock was blasted away. For Head, those findings helped to tie together years for research on Orientale. "I wrote my first paper on the Orientale Basin in 1974, over forty years ago, and I have been studying it ever since," he said. "We now know what parts of the crust were removed, what parts of the mantle and deeper interior were uplifted, and how much ejecta was removed and redistributed over the whole Moon."

Modeling Orientale's rings
For the other paper, Johnson led a team of researchers who used the GRAIL data to develop a computer model of the impact and its aftermath. The model that best fit the GRAIL data estimates that Orientale was formed by an object about 40 miles across traveling at about 9 miles per second. The model was able to recreate Orientale's rings and explain how they formed. It showed that as the crust rebounded following the impact, warm and ductile rocks in the subsurface flowed inward toward the impact point. That inward flow caused the crust above to crack and slip, forming the cliffs, several kilometers high, that compose the outer two rings.

The innermost ring was formed by a different process. In smaller impacts, the rebound of the crust can form a mound of material in the center of a crater, called a central peak. But Orientale's central peak was too large to be stable. That material flowed back outward, eventually mounding in a circular fashion, forming the inner ring. "This was a really intense process," Johnson said. "These several-kilometer cliffs and the central ring all formed within minutes of the initial impact."

Image
This color-coded map shows the strength of surface gravity around Orientale basin on the moon, derived from GRAIL data. (The color scale represents units of "gals" -- 1 gal is about 1/1000 of Earth's surface gravitational acceleration.) . Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This is the first time a model has been able to reproduce these rings, Johnson said.
"GRAIL provided the data we needed to provide a foundation for the models," he said. "That gives us confidence that we're capturing the processes that actually formed these rings."

Ring basins elsewhere
Orientale is the youngest and best-preserved example of a multi-ring basin anywhere in the solar system, but it's certainly not the only one. Armed with an understanding of Orientale, scientists can investigate how these processes play out elsewhere. "There are several basins of this kind on Mars," Johnson said "But compared to the Moon, there's a lot more geology that happened after these impacts that degrades them. Now that we have a better understanding of how the basins formed, we can make better sense of the processes that came after."

Head says that this research is yet another example of how our own Moon helps us understand the rest of the solar system. "The Moon in some ways is a laboratory full of well-preserved features that we can analyze in great detail," Head said. "Thanks to Maria Zuber's leadership, GRAIL continues to help us understand how the Moon evolved and how those processes relate to other planets and moons."

Refernce: "Formation of the Orientale lunar multiring basin," Science, science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aag0518
"Gravity field of the Orientale basin from the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory Mission," Science, science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi/10.1126/science.aag0519
Journal reference: Science
Provided by: Brown University

Website: http://phys.org/news/2016-10-formation-crater-moon.html

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 01 Nov 2016 11:17

Moon-forming crash sent Earth into a spin: study
Simulations show a collision strong enough to tilt our young planet almost on its side can explain how our moon ended up where it is today.
by Belinda Smith Cosmosmagazine.com Novemebr 01, 2016

Image
After a developing planet smashed into the primordial Earth, it nearly tilted the planet all the way over, simulations suggest.
Credit: RON MILLER / STOCKTREK IMAGES / GETTY IMAGES


There's plenty about our familiar grey moon we still don't know for sure. How did it form? Why is its orbit tilted slightly? And at around 380,000 kilometres distant, why is it so far away?
Matija Ćuk from the SETI Institute in California and a team of US planetary scientists have an explanation. Using modelling and simulations, they conclude that the collision that formed the moon sent Earth almost rotating on its side.

Over time, they write in Nature, interactions between the Earth, moon and sun smoothed out the whirling spin, leaving the duo in their current gravitational dance today. A leading theory of the moon's genesis is the giant impact model. It states that some 4.5 billion years ago, the young Earth collided with a developing planet, Theia.

Dust and rubble formed a disc around what was left of the Earth, which clumped together to become the moon. "But this scenario does not quite work if the Earth’s spin axis was tilted at the 23.5 ° angle we see today," says Douglas Hamilton from the University of Maryland and co-author of the study. Physics says the debris – and thus, the moon – should have gathered into a ring around Earth's equator. Then as tidal forces pushed the moon away, the moon should have made its way into an ecliptic plane, which is in the same plane as the Earth's orbit around the sun. Instead, the moon's orbit is tilted five degrees away from the ecliptic plane today.

So what happened?
Ćuk and his colleagues ran different moon-forming scenarios. The ones that ended up with an Earth-moon system most like we see today involved a collision that sent the Earth spinning extremely fast – as much as twice the rate predicted by other models. The impact also knocked the Earth’s tilt way off between 60 and 80 ° – almost on its side.

The newborn moon also started off very close to Earth, tracking closely with the Earth's equator, but then drifted away. As it approached 15 times its initial distance, the sun exerted its own influence over the moon’s orbit. A highly tilted, fast-spinning Earth and an outward-migrating moon probably contributed to the moon’s current strange orbit, the researchers conclude.

Hamilton acknowledges that the model isn't perfect and doesn’t answer all questions about the moon’s orbit. But "what we have now is a model that is more probable and works more cleanly than previous attempts", he says. "We think this is a significant improvement that gets us closer to what actually happened.”

Website: https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/moon-f ... spin-study

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 01 Nov 2016 13:31

Scientists explain why moon rocks contain fewer volatiles than Earth's
by Phys.org November 9, 2015

Image
This is a composite image of the lunar nearside taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009, note the presence of dark areas of maria on this side of the moon. Credit: NASA

Scientists at Southwest Research Institute combined dynamical, thermal, and chemical models of the Moon's formation to explain the relative lack of volatile elements in lunar rocks. Lunar rocks closely resemble Earth rocks in many respects, but Moon rocks are more depleted in volatile elements like potassium, sodium, and zinc, which tend to have lower boiling points and vaporize readily.

"Explaining the Moon's volatile depletion has been a long-standing mystery, and yet it is a key piece of evidence about how the Earth-Moon system formed," said Dr. Robin Canup, associate vice president in SwRI's Space Science and Engineering Division and lead author of the Nature Geoscience paper detailing the findings.

Scientists think the Moon formed from an Earth-orbiting disk of vapor and molten matter produced by a giant impact between Earth and another Mars-sized body approximately 4.5 billion years ago. Previously, scientists had considered that volatiles vaporized by the impact might have escaped before the Moon formed.

"However, few volatiles may have actually been lost because the velocity needed to escape the Earth's gravity is quite high," said Canup. "The new research suggests instead that as the Moon completed its growth, volatile-rich melt was preferentially deposited onto the Earth, rather than onto the growing Moon." Canup's team—which included researchers from SwRI, Dordt College, and Washington University—began with an existing computer simulation of the Moon's accumulation from the disk. This was combined with models for how the temperature and chemical composition of the disk material evolve with time.

The models show that the Moon acquires about the final half of its mass from melt condensed in the inner portions of the disk, close to the Earth and just inside the Moon's initial orbit. Over time, the Moon's orbit expands due to dynamical interactions with inner disk material. When the Moon is distant enough, it can no longer efficiently accumulate inner disk melt, which is instead scattered inward and assimilated by the Earth. "We find that the inner disk melt remains hot and volatile-poor as it accretes onto the Moon. Eventually the disk cools and volatiles condense. But by the time this occurs the Moon's accumulation from this inner disk region has essentially terminated," said Canup. "So the final materials the Moon accumulates are lacking in volatile elements, even in the absence of escape."

The authors suggest that the materials the Moon initially accumulates from the outer disk could be volatile-rich, followed by a final 100- to 500-kilometer layer of volatile-poor material. In that case, the Moon's volatile content could then increase with depth, depending on the extent of mixing in the Moon's interior.

Explore further: New model reconciles the Moon's Earth-like composition with the giant impact theory of formation
Reference: Lunar Volatile Depletion Due to Incomplete Accretion Within an Impact-Generated Disk, Nature Geoscience, Nov. 9, 2015. nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/ngeo2574
Journal reference: Nature Geoscience
Provided by: Southwest Research Institute

Website: http://phys.org/news/2015-11-scientists ... .html#nRlv

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 01 Nov 2016 22:02

Was the Moon born in a head-on collision?
The high-speed crash that scientists think formed the Moon may have been less a side-swipe and more a head-on, Belinda Smith reports.
by Belinda Smith Cosmosmagazine.com January 29, 2016

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A close-up of lunar rock from the Apollo 17 mission. Its oxygen 'fingerprint' matches that of Earth rocks. – Paul Warren/UCLA

As births go, they don’t come much more violent than the Moon's. Some 4.5 billion years ago, the young Earth collided with a developing planet, Theia. But instead of dealing each other a glancing blow, chemical analysis shows the collision was head-on, disintegrating Theia and part of Earth into a hot swirling disk of water and dust surrounding what was left of Earth.

This mix eventually clumped together to become the Moon, a new study suggests. The key to the findings is the unique oxygen “fingerprint” that is found in all the planets, moons, comets and asteroids in our Solar System, including the Earth and the Moon.

More than 99.9% of Earth’s oxygen is “normal”, with each atom containing eight protons and eight neutrons. But there are small quantities of slightly heavier oxygen – molecules with an extra neutron jammed in. While this "fingerprint" is a reliable identifier, it has traditionally been very hard to detect. So the University of California Los Angeles-led team used new, super-sensitive equipment to analyse seven lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions, as well as a lunar meteorite, and compared them to six volcanic rocks from the Earth’s mantle. They found their heavy oxygen levels to be almost identical – within five parts per million.

To have that level of similarity, the planetary objects must have crashed into each other straight on. A side blow couldn’t account for that degree of mixing. “Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the Moon, and evenly dispersed between them,” says study lead author and UCLA geochemist Edward Young, whose work is published in Science.

“This explains why we don’t see a different signature of Theia in the Moon versus the Earth.” Had Theia side-swiped Earth instead, and become hooked into Earth’s orbit, most of the Moon would be made from Theia. It should, then, have a completely different oxygen fingerprint to Earth.

But there is still one enduring question – just how big was Theia?
Some, including Young, believe it was around the same size as Earth. Others think it was smaller, around the size of Mars. But had it not been wiped out in the Earth smash, Young says, it would probably have grown to become a planet.

Website: https://cosmosmagazine.com/space/was-mo ... -collision

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 02 Nov 2016 22:16

NASA seeks concepts for commercial lunar lander instruments
by Jeff Foust Spacenews.com November 1, 2016

Image
Moon Express will provide $500,000 each for up to three instruments NASA may select for flight on the company's lunar landers. Credit: Moon Express artist's concept

COLUMBIA, Md. — NASA announced Nov. 1 that it is seeking information regarding instruments that could be flown to the moon on future commercial spacecraft, with one company that is developing a lander offering financial support for their development.

The request for information (RFI) released by NASA seeks details about “small payloads that could be delivered to the moon as early as the 2017–2020 timeframe using U.S. commercial lunar cargo transportation service providers.” The RFI, issued though NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems division, is focused on instruments and experiments that address “strategic knowledge gaps” in robotic and human lunar exploration, versus pure science investigations.

“We’re asking for information about the maturity of the instruments,” said John Guidi, deputy director of the Advanced Exploration Systems division, in a presentation at the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) meeting here. That includes whether the payload is a flight spare from another program or could be assembled quickly.

There is no firm definition of “small” in terms of the types of payloads they are seeking information about. “We didn’t specify a particular mass, size or cost constraint,” said Nantel Suzuki, Advanced Exploration Systems program executive, at the LEAG meeting. “The intent here is to solicit for payloads that would be suitable for delivery with emerging U.S. commercial transportation services to the moon.”

The RFI does not mention specific companies, but two American companies, Astrobotic and Moon Express, are actively developing commercial lunar landers that are designed to accommodate instruments and other payloads. Both companies are competing in the Google Lunar X Prize, which offers a $20 million grand prize for the first private spacecraft to land on the moon, travel at least 500 meters and return video and other data.

NASA, for the time being, is only soliciting ideas, and is not providing funding for any payloads. “We’re not planning on purchasing instruments or flying anything officially,” Guidi said. Depending on the responses, though, “we might consider assistance with commercial payload delivery services and taking instruments to the lunar surface.”

If NASA does later provide funding, it will do so in expectation that it shares the cost of developing the instrument with the organization providing it. “We’re budget constrained all the time,” Suzuki said. “So we are looking for opportunities for payloads that are already in development or other opportunities to cost-share.”

While NASA is not currently providing any funding, one of the commercial lander companies is. Moon Express separately announced Nov. 1 its “Lunar Scout” program, where it will provide $500,000 each for up to three instruments ultimately selected by NASA to fly on its lunar lander, assuming NASA does proceed with a payload competition of some kind.

“The Moon Express Lunar Scout Program is designed to expand our partnership with NASA and support the lunar science community with new low cost lunar orbiter and surface missions,” Moon Express Chief Executive Bob Richards said in a statement announcing the initiative.

Those payloads could fly as soon as 2017, when Moon Express plans to begin launching a series of small lunar landers both to compete in the Google Lunar X Prize competition and for other commercial purposes. The company has not disclosed technical details about its payload accommodations, including available mass and power.

Moon Express has previously worked with NASA in the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST) program to promote the development of commercial lunar landers. That effort included technical support by NASA for Moon Express’ lunar lander systems.

Website: http://spacenews.com/nasa-seeks-concept ... ign=buffer

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 02 Nov 2016 22:57

Team Indus gets slot on PSLV rocket for its journey to moon
by Alnoor Peermohamed & Raghu Krishnan Business-standard.com November 02, 2016

Image
Team Indus, the Bengaluru space startup that is aiming to send a lander and rover to the moon, has confirmed a slot on India's PSLV rocket for its mission in the last quarter of 2017.

The Indian team, backed by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, is among the three top contenders for the Google's Lunar XPRIZE competition, looking to win $30 million cheque for the first mission to land on the moon. In addition, the lunar rover has to travel 500 metres on the moon's surface while transmitting high resolution images to earth.

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will build an extended version of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to carry the lunar rover and lander to the moon. Antrix Corp, the commercial arm of Isro signed the deal with Team Indus, an Antrix official confirmed the development. Team Indus declined comment.

Isro had used the workhorse PSLV on its Chandrayaan-1 mission, when it sent a satellite that orbited the moon, besides crashing on its the earth's satellite to discover abundant water.

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For the Team Indus mission, Isro plans to replicate the sling shot approach it took for Chandrayaan-1 to hurl the lunar lander and rover away from the earth's gravity and land on the moon's surface. Team Indus has identified Mare Imbrium, latin for Sea of Showers, a vast dusty area on the Moon to land the spacecraft just at the just at the break of the lunar dawn, to help make the most of the lunar day.

"We will hopefully be the first privately funded spacecraft to land on any extraterrestrial body. We are extremely proud because this entire design has been done indigenously. We've had a lot of consultants from international countries, we're also sourcing a lot of components internationally, but this is 100 per cent indigenously designed," said Rahul Narayan, co-founder at TeamIndus in June.

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TeamIndus is in a race to beat Israeli team SpaceIL which has scheduled its launch for the second half of 2017. SpaceIL has secured its ticket to the moon aboard US-based private space firm SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. In order to win the $30 million XPRIZE competition, a team has to land on the moon's surface and travel a distance of 500 metres whilst transmitting high-resolution images.

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby HKumar » 03 Nov 2016 20:27

I would recommend the Netflix series 'Space Race' . Its main characters are Von Braun and Korolev and traces their independent trajectories to launching rockets to the moon. It covers personal history, rivalry, technical and political aspect of the race right from WW2 (when Von Braun was developing V2s and Korolev was in the Gulag) to landing on moon .

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 03 Nov 2016 20:52

NASA Turning To Private Companies, Science Community For Small Payloads To Be Sent To The Moon
by Kalyan Kumar Techtimes.com November 3, 2016

Image
The flag of the United States stands alone on the surface of the moon marking the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in 1999. Today, NASA is inviting private sector companies to offer ideas on transporting commercial payloads to the moon starting in 2017. The Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate urges providers from U.S. industries, universities, and nonprofit organizations to step in. ( NASA | Getty Images )

NASA is calling for expressions of interest from private companies in sending small scientific payloads to the moon, starting in 2017. To widen the scope of lunar exploration and increase the number of commercial flights to the moon, NASA has issued a Request for Information for a "Small Lunar Surface Payload," relying on the ability of U.S. companies to develop robots that can land on the moon. However, NASA has made no commitment in terms of funding and is only looking for payload ideas. The American space agency will not be awarding any contracts at this juncture.

The timing is significant as it coincides with the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition for landing a small spacecraft on the moon's surface by the end of 2017. "NASA is asking for information about small instruments that could be placed on small lunar landers, and our interest is that we want to address our strategic knowledge gaps," said John Guidi, NASA deputy director for advanced exploration systems.

Moon Exploration To Strengthen Mars Mission
There is some surprise among observers over NASA's new plan of sending more hardware to the moon: it seems to some as a departure from the manned mission to Mars. The space agency has been harping on putting humans on Mars as a priority since 2010 and talk about missions to the lunar surface has been rare. Obviously, NASA is looking to widen the understanding of moon's environment as a stepping stone for expanding human exploration to other planets.For example, NASA has already tied up with some private companies in developing deep-space habitats that are operating in the region called Cislunar space around the moon.

Now NASA wants to know Cislunar habitats could be used for humans mission to the Mars. It wants moon's resources explored better for space travel including lunar water for making spacecraft fuel. Similarly, aspects like radiation exposure and dust on the lunar surface and their impact on the human body also top the list. "Though we have gathered a great deal of information over the decades about the Moon from the earliest robotic probes, from the Apollo missions, and more recently from spacecraft ... there is still much more that we need to learn," William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration said.

Lunar Scout By Moon Express
One of the front runners keen to join the NASA's lunar plans will be lunar lander maker Moon Express, which announced a "Lunar Scout" program separately on Nov 1. The Moon Express program offers $500,000 each for three instruments that will fly on the lunar lander of Moon Express to be selected by NASA. "The Moon Express Lunar Scout Program is designed to expand our partnership with NASA with new low-cost lunar orbiter and surface missions," Moon Express Chief Executive Bob Richards said.

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 04 Nov 2016 08:47

An international outpost near the Moon gets closer to reality
by Anatoly Zak Planetary.ory blogs Novemebr 03,2016

International Space Station (ISS) project partners are inching ever closer toward an agreement to begin the development of a new human outpost in the vicinity of the Moon. If successful, the cis-lunar space station (a space station in the vicinity of the Moon) will be the largest international space project to date, influencing the direction of human space flight for decades to come.

During a closed-door meeting in Houston last week, NASA officials met their colleagues from Europe, Russia, Japan, and Canada to discuss the latest changes to the cis-lunar space station concept. The team, known as the International Spacecraft Working Group, ISCWG, is charged with brainstorming all the technical details necessary to start the development of the new deep-space exploration program after the retirement of the ISS, now expected in mid 2020s. The team's recommendations are not binding, but will likely form the reference architecture for any future project.

The current vision involves a multi-modular outpost, essentially a smaller version of the ISS, but in the vicinity of the Moon instead of in Earth’s orbit. The outpost will also use more advanced technologies than those available on the ISS, such as closed-loop life-support systems and electric propulsion. These could enable the outpost to become the first interplanetary crewed spacecraft heading into deep space to explore asteroids or even reach the vicinity of Mars in the 2030s. To reflect that ultimate goal, NASA identified the facility as a “proving ground” for Mars exploration.

Image
Lockheed Martin concept for a modular cis-lunar base

What will it look like?
The cis-lunar outpost would be built primarily out of modular components riding NASA’s giant SLS rocket as hitchhikers along with the Orion spacecraft. Following its insertion into trans-lunar trajectory, the Orion crew capsule would separate from the booster stage, turn around and dock with the add-on module still attached to the booster stage, very much like Apollo crews did to extract their lunar modules in the 1960s.

However, instead of landing on the lunar surface, each Orion mission would bring an add-on module to the vicinity of the Moon, where they would all be bolted together to form a long-term habitat. Other countries could launch their own components, as with the ISS program.

Assembly sequence
According to the latest architecture worked out by the partners, the construction of the outpost would start with a 8.5-ton power and propulsion module launched during the Orion’s third Exploration Mission, EM-3.

Recently, the European Space Agency agreed to provide an additional cutting-edge electric engine unit, which would help to propel the first module. Both American and European electric thrusters would be fed by xenon gas. The same module would also provide power supply and communications for the entire outpost. Last but not least, Canada would build a robotic arm, which would be strapped to the propulsion module and later used on the outpost.

Once the power and propulsion capabilities are in place, a pair of habitation modules would be delivered and attached to it in two subsequent Orion missions, EM-4 and EM-5. Previous incarnations of the plans envisioned these components being built in Russia or Europe, but the Japanese space agency has recently offered to contribute its own habitat. The Japanese habitat would feature a closed-loop life-support system, greatly reducing dependency of the outpost on deliveries of water and oxygen from Earth.

Also this year, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, agreed to consider contributing an airlock module for the outpost, which would be used for spacewalks. During its ride to the lunar vicinity with the Orion spacecraft, the airlock would be packed full of supplies for the future station, bringing its launch mass to around nine tons. Alternatively, Roscosmos could launch the airlock module independently, using its new-generation Angara-5 rocket, upgraded with a high-power hydrogen space tug.

Theoretically, Russia could also support the international program with its next-generation transport spacecraft dubbed Federatsiya (Federation), which is expected to be the only alternative to the Orion in bringing crews to the outpost. As of today, Roscosmos promises the first crewed flight of the new ship in the low Earth’s orbit in 2024, followed by the first mission to lunar orbit in 2027. Although SpaceX and other private providers are likely interested in providing transportation services to a cis-lunar program, only the NASA Orion and Roscosmos CTV spacecraft appear on the official schedule.

The cis-lunar space station could also be complemented by a 10-ton robotic vehicle developed jointly by ESA, Japan, and Canada. It could be equipped with a rover and an ascent stage for returning soil samples from the surface of the Moon. The robotic vehicle could be launched independently on a rocket provided by one of the partner agencies in 2026, at the earliest. Once the probe lands on the Moon, a crew onboard the cis-lunar outpost could remotely operate the soil-sampling rover on the surface and then launch the ascent stage for the subsequent transfer of samples back to Earth.

In the course of its assembly and operation, the cis-lunar outpost could be resupplied by cargo vehicles launched on a variety of rockets. During the second phase of assembly, at the end of the 2020s, the outpost would be complemented with NASA’s newest habitation and propulsion module launched on a dedicated SLS rocket. This latest addition could make it possible for the outpost to embark on the first mission into deep space.

Where do they stand?
Sources familiar with the matter say that after years of negotiations, the international team made enough progress to reach an agreement in the near future, which would see ISS partners all contributing components and technologies for the common goal. The initial phase of development of the cis-lunar outpost, known as Phase A, could then go ahead in 2017 or 2018.

During the Houston meeting this month, it was decided to postpone the beginning of the habitat construction by around a year until 2023. Under this scenario, the first phase of the outpost would be completed in 2028. Of course, if history of the ISS is any guide, many delays are very likely.

There are several political developments coming even this year, which can throw a monkey wrench into the carefully constructed schedule. Obviously, the first being the US presidential elections, which are notorious for changing the course of the American space program. Next, comes a meeting in December of the European ministers drawing the ESA’s budget for the next several years. And another wild card in the project is the Russian involvement, which remains uncertain due to an array of political, financial and technical problems.

Not surprisingly, partners scheduled the next meeting on the cis-lunar outpost at the beginning of next year. Although 2017 is just two months away, it could very well be in another era for space exploration.

Website: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-bl ... -near.html

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 05 Nov 2016 08:51

Europe wants a happy little village on the Moon. The USA may go along.
Recent comments from Republican and Democratic officials favor a lunar return.

by Eric Berger Arstechnica.com November 3, 2016

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The European Space Agency has been working on the Moon Village concept for several years

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Here, a multi-dome lunar base is being constructed, in part using 3D printing

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Once assembled, the inflated domes are covered with a layer of 3D-printed lunar regolith by robots. This helps protect the occupants against space radiation and micrometeoroids

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Under these plans, robots would do much of the work to create habitats before humans arrived permanently

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For example, we might build a large radio telescope on the quiet, far side of the Moon

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Or enjoy the view of home. (Better drink your beer fast, though)

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But for now, NASA's "squid chart" to Mars leaves humans in orbit around the Moon, rather than going down to the surface

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This timeline is, admittedly, over-optimistic

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ESA has come up with a lot of reasons for a human presence on the Moon

The director general of the European Space Agency, a German civil engineer named Johann-Dietrich Woerner, has for more than a year engaged in a charm offensive to unite the primary spacefaring nations. The goal? Creating a “village” on the Moon. Woerner has pressed his case for the Moon even as his agency’s closest ally, NASA and President Obama, have pushed for a human “Journey to Mars.”

But time, and the inescapable challenge of sending humans to Mars, may be on Woerner’s side. President Obama, who famously dismissed the the Moon by saying “we’ve been there before,” leaves office in January. His choice for NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, will likely follow him out the door. And when a new president faces the question of a destination for NASA’s human spaceflight program, he or she may well favor Woerner’s vision.

The underlying tension
At present, NASA and ESA have a great relationship. They’ve made nice even as their respective heads, Bolden and Woerner, have worked toward cross purposes. Bolden has said NASA will do everything it can to support the desire of Europe, Japan and other international space agencies to land humans on the Moon, but that he must focus on Mars. NASA’s official position now is that its astronauts will not be distracted by Moon landings on the way to Mars. They’ll remain in orbit.

The Europeans, meanwhile, have cast the Moon as a “stepping stone” to Mars. At the annual meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group in Columbia, Maryland on Tuesday, a principal architect of the Moon Village concept, French scientist Bernard Foing, said, “There is a synergy between the Moon and the Journey to Mars.” Foing, like Woerner, has pressed the case that neither NASA nor ESA is really ready to go to Mars, and the best place to get ready is on the surface of the Moon.

And therein lies an unspoken but nonetheless real tension. If NASA goes directly to Mars, keeping to its plan of building an orbital outpost around the Moon to test its deep space habitation capabilities, ESA probably doesn't have the funding or capability to go to the lunar surface. And if NASA joins the Europeans in building lunar outposts, the ballyhoed “Journey to Mars” will be delayed by a decade or more, due to the resources required to build a real lunar program and Moon-specific hardware.

This is the decision the next President will face. Continue pushing ahead on an uncertain, but certainly very expensive, Journey to Mars that may very well fail? Or join with European and other international partners by returning to the Moon, which has a greater chance of success?

Filling gaps
Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much these days, but it seems that the space policy cliques within both parties would like to see a reappraisal of the Moon as a destination. The clearest public evidence yet of this came last week, during the Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium in Huntsville, Ala.

One session focused exclusively on post-election space policy, and featured two well versed speakers. The first was Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, who has extensive experience with Republican executive governance. The second speaker, Ann Zulkosky, now works for Lockheed Martin, but spent most of 2007 to 2014 working on civil space policy under Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). She was a key architect of the NASA compromise to have the agency continue developing the Orion spacecraft, and build the Space Launch System rocket.

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In absence of NASA leadership, the European Space Agency's Johann-Dietrich Wörner has emerged as a leading voice for developing a lunar colony. In absence of NASA leadership, the European Space Agency's Johann-Dietrich Wörner has emerged as a leading voice for developing a lunar colony.

During the discussion, Pace said he did not take issue with the general direction of President Obama’s space policy, but raised concerns about the Mars plans. He noted that “more than one” international agency leader had told him they felt NASA’s approach excluded meaningful partnership because Mars lay beyond the capability of ESA and others. Pace said the next president should show leadership on this issue, but not the kind of leadership that NASA expressed in the 1960s, during the Apollo program.

“Today I would argue that leadership is very different than it was in the 1960s,” Pace said. “In the 1960s, very simplistically, it was all about what we could do by ourselves. Today, leadership is about what can you get other people to do with you, and leadership is about bringing other people along and going out together.”

Pace cited a “couple of large missing gaps” between NASA’s current programs in low-Earth orbit and actually landing humans on Mars, and said the next administration would have to address those. If that president wants to build an international consensus, Pace said, the Moon is the clear choice, at least as an interim step toward Mars. “We need to fill in that gap, and that gap needs to be filled in at the highest level by an adjustment of that policy to bring the Moon and international partnerships, and cooperation with the private sector, more clearly into that path,” he said.

The Democratic view
Pace’s Democratic counterpart, Zulkosky, largely agreed. She said the NASA’s human exploration programs were more or less on track, but could sustain a “tweak or two.” Like Pace, she said the next president could well feel the pull of Europe and the rest of the international community toward the Moon.

“Congress has spoken and repeated legislation with regard to the goal of Mars,” Zulkosky said. “But I think, again, that the steps to get there allow for some differences depending on your priorities. There’s been much discussion in the press and different forums about the international community, and their focus with a Moon return and things along those lines, and so I think as you move out toward Mars as the goal, who are you bringing with you? I think there’s a lot of conversation that can be had about the interim steps that the next administration could put in place that ultimately lead to that goal.”

According to two different sources, Zulkosky is among a handful of people informally advising the Clinton campaign. Another Clinton adviser, Neal Lane, has also made comments supportive of a lunar return before venturing to Mars.

Allez a la lune?
A number of people in the aerospace community have derided the “Moon Village” concept because it remains a fantasy if Europe, or Japan, try to go it alone. To make such a community a reality, Europe would need at minimum a fully committed Russia as a partner, but more likely it would require either the United States or China as a major stakeholder.

And China may perhaps be the true wildcard in this. The US Congress presently prohibits NASA from working directly with China, and that nation has been blocked from the International Space Station as a result. This has led to cooperation between China and Europe on space matters, and European astronauts have begun training to eventually visit a Chinese station in the mid-2020.

The next president of the United States will have to confront a complicated set of geopolitics. In terms of space policy, the continuation of a NASA Journey to Mars might ultimately leave Europe to move ahead with China on lunar activities. The alternative would be embracing a Moon Village-like concept, and along with Europe bringing western values to the “eighth continent” of Earth—the Moon. It may not prove such a difficult choice after all.

Listing image by ESA

Website: http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/11/ ... y-say-oui/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 05 Nov 2016 22:44

What rocks is the Moon made from?
by Mihai Andrei Zmescience.com October 20, 2016

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The geology of the South side of the Moon. Image via USGS

The Moon has quite an interesting geology, one which we’ll examine in detail below. But if you must have a short answer, the most common lunar rocks appear to be basalts, followed by feldspar-rich anorthosite and breccia. The most common elements on the moon’s surface are oxygen, silicon, iron, and calcium – not very much unlike Earth.

The geology of the Moon
The geology of the Moon is very different to that of the Earth: it has no plate tectonics, there is no atmosphere to contribute to rock weathering, and it has a significantly lower gravity and temperature. However, there are also similarities: the Moon also has a differentiated structure, with a crust, a mantle, and a core.

Image

The core of the moon is largely an unknown. From gravity and seismic measurements, there is reason to believe that the core is only about 20% the size of the Moon itself, which is much lower than for Earth and other terrestrial bodies. The composition of the lunar core remains a matter of debate, with geophysicists claiming some kind of metallic iron alloyed with a small amount of sulfur and nickel. The mantle is better constrained and highly heterogeneous. Rocks originating in the mantle and currently found on the surface indicate that the mantle is mostly formed of olivine and pyroxenes, silicate minerals commonly found on Earth in igneous rocks originating from the mantle. But the crust – that’s the most interesting thing, because we can observe it directly.

Rocks on the Moon
Six locations were sampled directly during the manned Apollo landings, which brought back 380.96 kilograms (839.9 lb) of lunar rock and soil to Earth. That’s a lot of material to sample, and geologists have analyzed them quite extensively. Many of the returned rocks were basalts, as the surface of the moon itself indicates.

Image

If you look at the moon directly, you see lighter and darker areas. The darker parts are the maria, plural for seas in Latin. The maria are basically basaltic seas, products of volcanic processes on the Moon. They represent large basaltic flows. They are similar to terrestrial basalts, but also have significant differences; for example, mare basalts show a large negative europium anomaly. Certain mare basalts also exhibit a large quantity of potassium, unlike those found on Earth. So virtually all of the dark areas you see on the near side of the moon are basalts, and while many scientists were suspecting this even before we had samples, getting the chance to analyze them directly was extremely exciting.

The other, lighter areas are just as intriguing. They are also igneous rocks, but unlike the basalts, which are volcanic, the highland rocks are plutonic. Plutonic means that they crystallized from magma slowly cooling below the surface of the Earth and not rapidly through a volcanic eruption. A large part of the highlands is composed of anorthosite, an igneous rock characterized by a predominance of plagioclase feldspar (over 90% feldspar). This feldspar is extremely rich in calcium by terrestrial standards, which tells us that at one point, the lunar environment was depleted of alkalis: potassium and sodium. There are also alkali-rich rocks in the lunar highlands (by lunar standards), but they’re not as common. Another part of the highlands is composed of rocks made of a mixture of pyroxene and olivine – minerals originating from the mantle.

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An olivine-rich basalt from the Moon

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Anorthosite from the Moon

Although quite rare, granites can also be found on the moon, likely as a result of particular crystallizations of magmas. Basically, the magmas started cooling and created crystals from some chemical elements, leaving behind other ones which would eventually go on to form the granites.

The moon’s surface is also dominated by huge impact craters. Impact breccias are thought to be diagnostic of an impact event such as an asteroid or comet striking the surface of the moon. When the impact takes place, it creates huge temperatures and pressure which greatly change the properties of existing rocks. Some breccias are highly glassy, formed from impact melt that exit the crater and entrain large volumes of crushed (but not melted) ejecta.

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Polarized, thin section of a mare basalt from the Moon

Website: http://www.zmescience.com/other/did-you ... d-reality/

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 06 Nov 2016 17:04

China to upgrade geological probe on moon, Mars
People's Daily Online October 9, 2016

China has resolved to advance its geological research in Earth's polar regions, the moon, Mars and other planets.

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China unveiled the design of its Mars probe this August, which will consist of three parts — the orbiter, the lander and the rover, according to design illustrations released by the China National Space Administration. The rover will have six wheels and four solar panels. [Photo: People's Daily Online]

In a blueprint issued recently by the Ministry of Land and Resources, the ministry placed emphasis on studying the chemical composition of the moon and Mars, as well as their evolution and remote sensing measurements. A survey of lunar gravity and magnetism as well as probes into the moon's deep interior structure will also be carried out in the next five years. Other ambitious projects described in the blueprint include constructing terrestrial analogs to the moon and Mars, and carrying out their geological mapping.

A staff member from China Geological Survey said that, as the moon is Earth's only permanent natural satellite, and Mars is a rocky planet somewhat similar to Earth, research relating to both celestial bodies contributes to the study of Earth and its geodiversity.

Another focus of upcoming research is Earth's polar regions. The ministry plans to further its study of polar geophysical prospecting, glacier movement and deformation, polar environmental changes, polar energy and ecological resources, ice drilling technology, and microbiology using ice core samples.

By 2020, the Ministry of Land and Resources is expected to launch 21 operational satellites and six research satellites, which will form an advanced satellite observation system. The department has also vowed to upgrade the application efficacy of the satellites, which will increase their capabilities in marine management, mapping and disaster prevention.

Website: http://www.china.org.cn/china/2016-10/0 ... 447298.htm

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Re: Google Lunar XPRIZE and Space 2.0 Discussion

Postby bharats » 08 Nov 2016 08:52

ISRO starts landing tests for Chandrayaan-2 mission
by Madhumathi D S The Hindu November 6, 2016

Simulated lunar craters created in Chitradurga to plan lander’s descent

The Indian Space Research Organsiation started a series of ground and aerial tests linked to the critical Moon landing of Chandrayaan-2 on Friday, at its new site at Challakere in Chitradurga district, 400 km from Bengaluru. ISRO Satellite Centre or ISAC, the lead centre for the second Moon mission, has artificially created close to ten craters to simulate the lunar terrain and test the Lander’s sensors.

A small ISRO aircraft has been carrying equipment with sensors over these craters to plan the tasks ahead. ISRO, along with a host of other scientific and strategic agencies, owns vast land for its future missions at Challakere, in a ‘Science City.’ ISAC Director M.Annadurai told The Hindu, “The campaign for the Lander tests of Chandrayaan-2 has started. Tests are conducted over the simulated craters at Chitradurga. We are using an aircraft to assess whether the sensors on the Lander will do their job [later] of identifying the landing spot on the Moon.”

Chandrayaan-2 is tentatively set for late 2017 or early 2018 and includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface. Landing on an alien surface is very complicated, said Dr. Annadurai, who was also the Project Director for the successful Chandrayaan-1 lunar exploration mission of 2008. The Lander’s success hinges on sensors. As it descends from the mother ship or Orbiter, they must correctly judge the distance to the lunar surface, the required speed and the time to hover over the location, for a few seconds. The terrain should enable a smooth landing and steady movement of the Rover when it is released from the Lander.

Battery of tests
In the coming months up to March, ISAC would conduct many tests: on avionics and electronics; testing the Lander’s legs; and its eight throttlable engines, followed by a combined full test, at Bengaluru and Chitradurga. The mission includes an Orbiter, a Lander and a Rover, all being readied at ISAC in Bengaluru. The Orbiter spacecraft when launched from Sriharikota will travel to the Moon and release the Lander, which will in turn deploy a tiny Rover to roam the lunar surface - all three sending data and pictures to Earth.

Last week, the European Space Agency’s Mars lander, the Schiaparelli craft, crashed while parachuting to the Martian surface. Asked what lessons could be drawn from this, Dr. Annadurai said they were different in nature. The Chandrayaan-2 Lander does not use parachutes; the configurations and gravity issues of the two missions are different. “It still calls for a good amount of testing” for Chandrayaan-2, he said.

Website: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/scienc ... 262541.ece


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