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Space.com has reported that a new study has shown that the Moon’s interior may have 100 times more water than previously thought.
The study of volcanic glass beads found during Apollo suggests that the minimum level of hydroxl—a minor element found throughout the moon—is much higher than estimated when it was first detected in 2008.
“It is gratifying to see this proof of the hydroxyl contents in lunar apatite. The concentrations are very low and, accordingly, they have been until recently nearly impossible to detect. We can now finally begin to consider the implications – and the origin – of water in the interior of the moon.” – Washington University lunar scientist Bradley Jolliff, “Research Suggests Water Content Of Moon Interior Underestimated”, NASA
While this isn’t quite as epic as other recent discoveries of water on the Moon, it’s yet another drop in the bucket towards illustrating that the Moon is not the bone-dry place it was once thought to be—and another hint that we’ve just barely begun to understand what secrets (and benefits) the Moon may hold :)
Check out the Space.com article for more of the geologic details on hydroxl and the source of this water!
Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #22 June 9, 2010Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup.
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- Much props went out to SpaceX for their successful first launch of the Falcon 9! The Falcon 9 is slated to potentially launch at least one team (Astrobotic)’s craft.
- The official GLXP Launch Pad blog posted an update on the LEGO MoonBots competition!
- Also, official GLXP email updates are now going out—sign up at the official site :)
- Team ARCA posted about a meeting they had with the Romanian Air Force and ROMASTA, regarding the team’s upcoming launch activities…
- Team Open-Moon revealed their new mascots! :D The team will be at LinuxTag in Berlin this month, mascots and all :) (They’re also doing a breakout session at Future Forum Dresden—busy busy! :) )
With a lot of customers already lined up to use the Falcon 9 (including NASA; Google Lunar X PRIZE team Astrobotic; and private space base builder Bigelow), getting one to orbit on the first try (versus the fourth try with the Falcon 1) helps quiet a lot of the questions underlying many of these customers’ efforts, particularly NASA’s shift towards relying on private space. A pretty historic milestone, the idea of increased access to space—and the Moon—just got a little bit more ‘when’, and not ‘if’.
Here’s a video of the launch, which includes the always neat on-board-rocket views:
Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #21 June 4, 2010Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup.
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All the GLXP goodness from the days of May:
- Team Astrobotic presented at a NASA exploration workshop (and elsewhere), and an info-rich PDF ensued! Tons of imagery, technical/launch details, and a December 2012 launch date included :)
- Team Micro-Space has two of its CubeSats manifested for an October 29th launch with Orbital!
- Allan Herbert, co-leader of team JURBAN, was profiled by Politic365!
- Team ARCA posted a video journal on balloon recovery, as well as a slideshow on their presentation for the International Conference of Scientific Papers!
- The GLXP was featured on the HowStuffWorks blog :)
- The official Launch Pad blog posted three bits of cool lander news.
Japan Planning Robotic Moon Base for 2020! May 28, 2010Posted by Nick Azer in Japan, robotic moon base, rover.
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The ~$2.2 billion base will feature some pretty hardcore robots—including 660-pound beasts and robots that could potentially range within a 60-mile radius of the base. (For a comparison, the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are 387 pounds each, making them the largest unmanned. NASA’s manned Lunar Electric Rovers would have been 5,000 pounds with 596-mile total trips, though, so grander vehicles have been planned before).
These aren’t your mother’s rovers, either—these robots could have a degree of decision-making autonomy as they complete their tasks.
The base will be located near the lunar south pole, where plentiful sunlight makes it the prime location for solar power.
2020 sounds pretty ambitious, but if you think about it, the GoogleLunar X PRIZE has companies landing rovers by 2013/2014, so having simply more rovers together building a base isn’t all that extreme for 2020. Especially with 200 billion yen.
Popular Science brings up an interesting potential side benefit of the project:
“Even if Japan falls short of its 2020 deadline, the advances in robotics technology that could fall out of this little project could be as exciting as the moon base itself.”- Clay Dillow, “Japan Plans a Moon Base by 2020, Built By Robots for Robots“, Popular Science
Regardless, this is an exciting project, and could well prove to be one of the major historical beachheads for colonization and mining efforts :)
Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #20 May 25, 2010Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup, Luna C/I.
- Team Astrobotic‘s third prototype sprang into life! Check out the video of it in action :)
- MIT students working with Next Giant Leap showed their work to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. Pretty cool :)
Check out my Twitter GLXP List for a lot of these updates as they come in real-time…if you have any additions for it or related sources you think I should keep tabs on, drop me a line in the comments below :)
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The location of Tsiolkovskiy, via Google Moon.
The darkness, like the mare, comes from a floor that filled with lava. The unusual nature of Tsiolkovskiy led it to be considered as a landing site for Apollo 17 or the later Apollo missions that were cancelled. As no Apollo missions ended up going to the far side, that’s still a cookie left to be had—the first man to ever reach the far side of the moon. (Side note: the dark side of the moon and the far side are actually separate concepts; the Moon does rotate, just perfectly in sync with Earth, so the far side does have day and night, with the lunar night at any given time being ‘the dark side’.)
The LRO image at top shows a litany of boulders, many with trails behind them visible (rolling stones on the far side…all we need are beetles and a zeppelin-shaped craft, and we’ve got a true rock odyssey). For these locales where no man has gone before, the incredible hi-def eye of the LRO can finally take us deep into the places we longed to explore 40 years ago.
Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #19 May 17, 2010Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup.
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- Registration for the GLXP MoonBots LEGO MINDSTORMS Challenge closed, with more than 200+ teams signed up! A great summary of the competition was posted by MSNBC’s Alan Boyle on his Cosmic Log :)
- Team ARCA added a few more video journals for the week :)
- Team Part Time Scientists did a Q+A for MoonBots teams and any space questions they had. Part Time Scientists will also officially be presenting at the Berlin Air Show (Europe’s biggest)!
- Team Astrobotic featured a new round of thermal testing (nice detail!) :)
- Team White Label Space blogged about progress on a prototype engine throttle controller.
LRO Image of the Week #3: It’s a Zoo Out There May 16, 2010Posted by Nick Azer in LRO Image of the Week, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, Moon Zoo, selenography.
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This week’s image is the most interesting selection I received upon my initial perusings for Moon Zoo. Moon Zoo’s a new citizen science project, recruiting you to help sort through images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and identify items of interest in them.
This section, near the notable crater Aristarchus (brightest on the Moon by a wide margin), is brimming with all kinds of rocky activity! A rather unusual landscape.
Check out my post from this week on Moon Zoo and head over there to get your own selection of images (and the interactive lunar map made from LRO images—super hi def!—under the “My Moon Zoo” section).
Moon Zoo Launched—Help Map the Moon :) May 12, 2010Posted by Nick Azer in Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, Moon Zoo, selenography.
Using images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Moon Zoo project recruits you to help point out significant lunar craters and items of interest from a wide variety of landscapes. Randomly selecting LRO images for each user to analyze, Moon Zoo gives you a chance to pick up some cool lunar geology (and selenography) expertise on the fly while hunting for everything from boulder fields to the remains of spacecraft :)
You can even see on the “My Moon Zoo” page where the images you’ve inspected are located—on a map that, being from hi-def LRO images, gives some spectacular zoom! Crack open Google Earth’s Moon View and get a headstart on your mental lunar atlas :) (Turns out some of the most interesting images from my first batch were from near Aristarchus!)
It’s a lot of fun! Check out that video above for a tutorial, go sign up, and get your lunar nerd on :)