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  • richardmitnick 7:34 am on August 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Protecting Artemis and lunar explorers from space radiation", Lunar research,   

    From The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganization](EU): “Protecting Artemis and lunar explorers from space radiation” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency – United Space in Europe (EU)

    From The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganization](EU)

    8.26.22

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    Aurorae
    8.22.22

    Aurorae observed by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti aboard the International Space Station for her Minerva Mission. She shared these images to her social media on 21 August 2022 with the caption: “The Sun has been really active lately. Last week we saw the most stunning auroras I have ever experienced in over 300 days in space!” Visit Minerva mission page to learn more about Samantha’s mission. © ESA/NASA-S.Cristoforetti; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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    ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti returned to the International Space Station for her second mission, Minerva, on 27 April 2022. Samantha was launched in a new SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule called Freedom alongside her Crew-4 crew mates, NASA astronauts Bob “Farmer” Hines, Kjell Lindgren and Jessica Watkins. During the flight to and from the Station, Samantha will be a mission specialist. On Station, she is USOS Lead, responsible for all activities within the US Orbital Segment for the duration of her mission. This segment includes the US, European, Japanese and Canadian modules and components of the Space Station. During her time on board Samantha will support numerous European and international experiments in orbit.

    Astronauts weather the storm

    While solar flares and small to medium-sized coronal mass ejections are unnervingly spectacular, these phenomena alone are unlikely to pose much risk to Artemis I or future crewed Moon missions.

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    A solar eruption seen by the SOHO spacecraft on 24 July 1999. Credit: SOHO/EIT. © ESA

    ‘Solar energetic particle events’ are the ones to watch out for. They occur when particles emitted by the Sun – mostly protons but also some ionized atoms like Helium – are sped up, accelerated to near relativistic velocities. It is these high-energy particles shot through space that can affect a spacecraft and its crew.

    Solar particle events are associated with particularly big solar flares and coronal mass ejections, as it is these eruptions that can cause shockwaves that shove solar particles to dangerous speeds.

    When it comes to the Artemis missions, much of the radiation from a particle event would be blocked by the walls of the space capsule – Orion and its European Service Module were designed to ensure the reliability of essential systems during radiation events.

    But the event could interfere with communications between the crew and teams on Earth, and the astronauts could have to seek refuge in a makeshift storm shelter, as happened on the Space Station in September 2017.

    Yet, the Space Station was still well within the protection of Earth’s ‘magnetosphere’ – a protective bubble of magnetic field that the Moon doesn’t have.

    “Leaving the magnetosphere is like leaving a safe harbor and venturing out into the open ocean…” says Melanie Heil, Segment Coordinator of ESA’s Space Weather Office.

    “Radiation exposure for astronauts at the Moon can be an order of magnitude higher than on the Space Station and several orders of magnitude higher than on Earth’s surface. Future astronauts will face higher risks from solar particle events: it is very important that we study the radiation environment beyond the magnetosphere and improve our ability to predict and prepare for solar storms.”

    Near miss: the summer of ‘72

    4
    4.17.2020
    NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 lunar module pilot, by a boulder at Station 6 during the mission’s third moonwalk at the Taurus-Littrow landing site.

    Almost 50 years after the Apollo missions returned lunar material to Earth, ESA experts are helping to uncover the secrets of two previously unopened samples to learn more about ancient processes on the Moon – and to refine and practice techniques for future sample return missions.

    With one sample already being analyzed, preparations are now being made to open the second later this year.

    This work focuses on rock and soil retrieved during the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, and is part of NASA’s Apollo Next-Generation Sample Analysis (ANGSA) programme, which takes advantage of advanced analytical techniques.

    “ANGSA ties together those who were involved in the initial curation and analysis of Apollo samples with the next generation of planetary scientists,” says Francesca McDonald, ESA Research Fellow who is coordinating ESA’s ANGSA participation. “Our diverse team includes Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt, the only geologist to walk on the Moon, who along with fellow Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan, originally collected the lunar material.

    With future lunar missions likely to target the polar regions, and the international Mars Sample Return campaign in preparation, this will provide essential information for developing future extra-terrestrial sample containment and curation procedures. © NASA.

    Exactly 50 years ago in August 1972, a series of powerful solar storms including significant solar particle events caused widespread disruption to satellites and ground-based communications systems on Earth.

    The storms took place bang in the middle of NASA’s Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 Moon missions, with just a few months on either side. Fortunately, there were no human explorers outside the Earth’s protective magnetic field at the time. Had they encountered these storms from inside the command module, it is thought the radiation dose delivered would have caused acute radiation poisoning. For an astronaut on a spacewalk, it could be lethal.

    “Reliable space weather services are a necessity for exploration and long-term habitation of the Moon,” says Juha-Pekka Luntama, ESA’s Head of Space Weather.

    “A 1972-level event will happen again, and if we don’t stay vigilant, we may have astronauts in space and outside the protection of Earth’s magnetic field when it does.”

    Measuring radiation at the Moon

    Until now, we have mostly been concerned with the impacts of space weather on Earth’s infrastructure – power grids, communication systems, Earth-orbiting satellites and astronauts on the Space Station.

    ESA’s Space Weather Service Network is spread across Europe, where experts process data from a wide range of radiation detectors onboard satellites in orbit and sensors on Earth.

    Why this matters

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    1.25.2018
    Space weather refers to the environmental conditions in space as influenced by solar activity.

    In Europe’s economy today, numerous sectors can be affected by space weather. These range from space-based telecommunications, broadcasting, weather services and navigation, through to power distribution and terrestrial communications, especially at northern latitudes.

    One significant influence of solar activity is seen in disturbances in satellite navigation services, like Galileo, due to space weather effects on the upper atmosphere. This in turn can affect aviation, road transport, shipping and any other activities that depend on precise positioning.

    For satellites in orbit, the effects of space weather can be seen in the degradation of communications, performance, reliability and overall lifetime. For example, the solar panels that convert sunlight to electrical power on most spacecraft will steadily generate less power over the course of a mission, and this degradation must be taken into account in designing the satellite.

    In addition, increased radiation due to space weather may lead to increased health risks for astronauts, both today on board the International Space Station in low orbit and in future on voyages to the Moon or Mars.

    On Earth, commercial airlines may also experience damage to aircraft electronics and increased radiation doses to crews (at long-haul aircraft altitudes) during large space weather events. Space weather effects on ground can include damage and disruption to power distribution networks, increased pipeline corrosion and degradation of radio communications. © ESA/Science Office, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    With this they provide information and services to a range of ‘users’ from satellite, airline and power grid operators to aurora hunters. The Network will continue to provide its services during the Artemis I flight and report any significant space weather event, predicted or oncoming.

    But for long-term human activity at the Moon, we need to monitor the lunar radiation environment directly.

    Radiation research will be a major focus of the Artemis I test flight. The Orion capsule will carry radiation monitors from NASA and ESA, as well as a host of mannequins and CubeSats designed to help us better understand the radiation environment on the way to the Moon and its impact on human health.

    ESA is also working on the European Radiation Sensor Array (ERSA) project – a series of devices that will provide real-time radiation monitoring on board the future crewed lunar Gateway space station.

    Combining radiation measurements from the outside and inside of crewed spaces would allow researchers to see how much radiation ‘leaks’ in, and more accurately predict the risk to astronauts at the Moon when a space weather event is detected.

    ESA researchers are also looking into the possibility of including radiation instruments on other un-crewed Moon orbiters, such as Lunar Pathfinder and future lunar telecommunication satellite networks.

    Looking into the future

    Our star can be unpredictable and temperamental, but when ‘active regions’ appear on the solar surface, they tend to remain there from days to several weeks. If we could monitor these regions even before they rotate into view of Earth, we could improve our forecasts for space weather around Earth and the Moon.

    Introducing: ESA Vigil


    2.10.22
    It’s the first mission of its kind, set to monitor our active and unpredictable Sun and help protect us from its violent outbursts – and it has a new name.

    Once known as “Lagrange,” ESA’s upcoming space weather mission needed a new name that would reflect its vital role: helping to protect Earth’s infrastructure, satellites, inhabitants and space explorers from unpredictable but violent solar events like solar flares and ‘coronal mass ejections’.

    During the #NameTheMission campaign, 5422 entries were submitted from across Europe and indeed around the world – and after weeks of deliberation, countless spreadsheets, three diverse and expert judges and a lively debate – a new name has been selected for our upcoming space weather mission: ESA Vigil.

    “We are thrilled with our mission’s new name,” explains Juha-Pekka Luntama, ESA’s Head of Space Weather.

    “When I first heard it, I thought it was just spot on. That is exactly what we do, we keep a vigilant watch and guard Earth”.

    In Latin, ‘vigilis exceptus’ means sentry, or guard, while ‘vigilia’ means wakefulness and the act of keeping a devoted watch, which resonates with the mission’s role – a devoted guardian, keeping constant watch over the Sun, for Earth.

    Protecting modern life, and life itself

    Solar storms can damage power grids, disrupt telecommunications and threaten satellites and the vital services they provide. At the same time, as we launch ever-more satellites into orbit we are creating increasing amounts of debris – dramatically increasing the risks of collision for current and future missions.

    These satellites have changed our lives and enlarged our perspective on Earth, but they – and the technologies they make possible on which modernity relies – are vulnerable.

    The protection of space assets is at the heart of ESA’s Vision for the future . To do this, the new Protect ‘accelerator’ proposes the development of ‘air traffic control for space’, as well as an early warning system to help us prepare for hazardous solar activity. © ESA – European Space Agency.

    What the portal provides

    On the portal homepage a variety of graphs, graphics, maps and observations of the Sun portray the current conditions in space, from data on the interplanetary medium and the solar wind to – closer to home – Earth’s atmosphere and geomagnetic environment.

    The site focuses on 12 areas, or “domains” that are affected by the Sun, including spacecraft operation and human spaceflight, pipeline operations, terrestrial radio communications, power systems, aviation and even aurora hunters.

    Under each domain, visitors to the site will find forecasts on how the weather in space could affect their operations, now and in the future. For example, aviation, where a range of space weather phenomena can affect both aircrew and technical infrastructures.

    The health of aircrews can be affected by increased radiation exposure, mainly caused by Galactic Cosmic Rays and occasional eruptions of Solar Energetic Particles. Space weather can also cause aviation infrastructure to degrade, or lead to loss of communication and navigation signals, as well as errors on-board aeroplanes.

    Such disruptions can be caused by both electromagnetic and charged particle radiation, as well as changes in ionospheric conditions.

    ESA’s Space Weather service for aviation aims at providing access to global information, data, models and tools addressing these issues to help pilots and ‘airline dispatchers’ in flight planning.

    Many other fields can find similar information catered to their needs, including those working with power grids, pipelines, spacecraft, monitoring space debris and exploring the Solar System. Aurora hunters too, for example, can find regional information on the best time and place to spot the aurora – the beautiful and harmless manifestation of space weather processes.

    Many of the products and tools which can be accessed via the portal can be used independently, but bringing them together and grouping them into user driven services provides a complete picture of ongoing and upcoming space weather conditions relevant for a particular user group based on state-of-the art scientific results and expert analysis. “Users” of the portal can also personalise it as they wish, combining its elements in flexible ways through, for example, tailored bulletins and dashboards.

    Aside from models, predictions and datasets, the portal also provides access to space weather experts across Europe, as well as guidance and training through dedicated courses and online webinars.

    How does it work?

    What is space weather?


    06/11/2018

    “Solar forecasting is a challenging business, much like weather forecasting on Earth,” explains Alexi Glover, Space Weather Service Coordinator at ESA.

    “We have numerous tools available that use the latest scientific knowledge in order to provide an indication of the Sun’s current condition and how this may evolve. These tools are publicly available via the portal, and many are also used by expert forecasters to provide an overall assessment and forecast of how they expect conditions to evolve.”

    These expert assessments are available on the Portal and also make up part of the tailored bulletins issued to certain users in case of disturbed conditions. These expert summaries, combined with the large amount of data and information available, provide users with a wealth of information about current space weather conditions.

    Where does the information come from?

    The information which together constitutes ESA’s Space Weather Services comes from a wide range of space- and ground-based sources.

    Missions such as the ESA/NASA SOHO [above] observatory provide critical data alerting us to the onset of potentially hazardous events at the Sun and ESA’s Proba-2 mission also provides valuable information about solar activity.

    Ground-based data, too, plays an important role, from ground-based magnetometers measuring rapid local fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field, to ‘ionosondes’ – a special radar for the examination of the ionosphere – the ionized (charged) part of Earth’s upper atmosphere, probing the ionised part of the upper atmosphere and providing essential information on how radio signals may propagate under current conditions.

    In the future, ESA’s Lagrange mission to monitor the Sun will substantially improve the network’s forecasting abilities, providing timely data from the unique 5th Lagrange point.

    “L5 is an excellent spot for this space weather mission because it gets a “side view” of what’s happening at the Sun, giving us time to prepare before any potentially dangerous regions rotate into view as seen from Earth,” says Juha-Pekka.

    “The spacecraft will provide crucial data that will help us spot Earth-arriving ejections, improve our forecasts of the arrival time at Earth and provide advance knowledge of active regions on the Sun.”

    Used in combination with data from NASA’s upcoming Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 mission (SWFO-1), located at the first Lagrange point, L1, and along with advanced modelling, data from ESA’s future mission promises to enable big steps forward in our ability to accurately forecast major space weather disturbances before they reach Earth.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC (NL) in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the
    European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA’s space flight programme includes human spaceflight (mainly through participation in the International Space Station program); the launch and operation of uncrewed exploration missions to other planets and the Moon; Earth observation, science and telecommunication; designing launch vehicles; and maintaining a major spaceport, the The Guiana Space Centre [Centre Spatial Guyanais; CSG also called Europe’s Spaceport) at Kourou, French Guiana. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle. The agency is also working with NASA to manufacture the Orion Spacecraft service module that will fly on the Space Launch System.

    The agency’s facilities are distributed among the following centres:

    ESA European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) (NL) in Noordwijk, Netherlands;
    ESA Centre for Earth Observation [ESRIN] (IT) in Frascati, Italy;
    ESA Mission Control ESA European Space Operations Center [ESOC](DE) is in Darmstadt, Germany;
    ESA -European Astronaut Centre [EAC] trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany;
    European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) (UK), a research institute created in 2009, is located in Harwell, England;
    ESA – European Space Astronomy Centre [ESAC] (ES) is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain.
    European Space Agency Science Programme is a long-term programme of space science and space exploration missions.

    Foundation

    After World War II, many European scientists left Western Europe in order to work with the United States. Although the 1950s boom made it possible for Western European countries to invest in research and specifically in space-related activities, Western European scientists realized solely national projects would not be able to compete with the two main superpowers. In 1958, only months after the Sputnik shock, Edoardo Amaldi (Italy) and Pierre Auger (France), two prominent members of the Western European scientific community, met to discuss the foundation of a common Western European space agency. The meeting was attended by scientific representatives from eight countries, including Harrie Massey (United Kingdom).

    The Western European nations decided to have two agencies: one concerned with developing a launch system, ELDO (European Launch Development Organization), and the other the precursor of the European Space Agency, ESRO (European Space Research Organisation). The latter was established on 20 March 1964 by an agreement signed on 14 June 1962. From 1968 to 1972, ESRO launched seven research satellites.

    ESA in its current form was founded with the ESA Convention in 1975, when ESRO was merged with ELDO. ESA had ten founding member states: Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. These signed the ESA Convention in 1975 and deposited the instruments of ratification by 1980, when the convention came into force. During this interval the agency functioned in a de facto fashion. ESA launched its first major scientific mission in 1975, Cos-B, a space probe monitoring gamma-ray emissions in the universe, which was first worked on by ESRO.

    ESA50 Logo large

    Later activities

    ESA collaborated with National Aeronautics Space Agency on the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), the world’s first high-orbit telescope, which was launched in 1978 and operated successfully for 18 years.

    ESA Infrared Space Observatory.

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration Solar Orbiter annotated.

    A number of successful Earth-orbit projects followed, and in 1986 ESA began Giotto, its first deep-space mission, to study the comets Halley and Grigg–Skjellerup. Hipparcos, a star-mapping mission, was launched in 1989 and in the 1990s SOHO, Ulysses and the Hubble Space Telescope were all jointly carried out with NASA. Later scientific missions in cooperation with NASA include the Cassini–Huygens space probe, to which ESA contributed by building the Titan landing module Huygens.

    ESA/Huygens Probe from Cassini landed on Titan.

    As the successor of ELDO, ESA has also constructed rockets for scientific and commercial payloads. Ariane 1, launched in 1979, carried mostly commercial payloads into orbit from 1984 onward. The next two versions of the Ariane rocket were intermediate stages in the development of a more advanced launch system, the Ariane 4, which operated between 1988 and 2003 and established ESA as the world leader in commercial space launches in the 1990s. Although the succeeding Ariane 5 experienced a failure on its first flight, it has since firmly established itself within the heavily competitive commercial space launch market with 82 successful launches until 2018. The successor launch vehicle of Ariane 5, the Ariane 6, is under development and is envisioned to enter service in the 2020s.

    The beginning of the new millennium saw ESA become, along with agencies like National Aeronautics Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Indian Space Research Organisation, the Canadian Space Agency(CA) and Roscosmos(RU), one of the major participants in scientific space research. Although ESA had relied on co-operation with NASA in previous decades, especially the 1990s, changed circumstances (such as tough legal restrictions on information sharing by the United States military) led to decisions to rely more on itself and on co-operation with Russia. A 2011 press issue thus stated:

    “Russia is ESA’s first partner in its efforts to ensure long-term access to space. There is a framework agreement between ESA and the government of the Russian Federation on cooperation and partnership in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and cooperation is already underway in two different areas of launcher activity that will bring benefits to both partners.”

    Notable ESA programmes include SMART-1, a probe testing cutting-edge space propulsion technology, the Mars Express and Venus Express missions, as well as the development of the Ariane 5 rocket and its role in the ISS partnership. ESA maintains its scientific and research projects mainly for astronomy-space missions such as Corot, launched on 27 December 2006, a milestone in the search for exoplanets.

    On 21 January 2019, ArianeGroup and Arianespace announced a one-year contract with ESA to study and prepare for a mission to mine the Moon for lunar regolith.

    Mission

    The treaty establishing the European Space Agency reads:

    The purpose of the Agency shall be to provide for and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems…

    ESA is responsible for setting a unified space and related industrial policy, recommending space objectives to the member states, and integrating national programs like satellite development, into the European program as much as possible.

    Jean-Jacques Dordain – ESA’s Director General (2003–2015) – outlined the European Space Agency’s mission in a 2003 interview:

    “Today space activities have pursued the benefit of citizens, and citizens are asking for a better quality of life on Earth. They want greater security and economic wealth, but they also want to pursue their dreams, to increase their knowledge, and they want younger people to be attracted to the pursuit of science and technology. I think that space can do all of this: it can produce a higher quality of life, better security, more economic wealth, and also fulfill our citizens’ dreams and thirst for knowledge, and attract the young generation. This is the reason space exploration is an integral part of overall space activities. It has always been so, and it will be even more important in the future.”

    Activities

    According to the ESA website, the activities are:

    Observing the Earth
    Human Spaceflight
    Launchers
    Navigation
    Space Science
    Space Engineering & Technology
    Operations
    Telecommunications & Integrated Applications
    Preparing for the Future
    Space for Climate

    Programmes

    Copernicus Programme
    Cosmic Vision
    ExoMars
    FAST20XX
    Galileo
    Horizon 2000
    Living Planet Programme
    Mandatory

    Every member country must contribute to these programmes:

    Technology Development Element Programme
    Science Core Technology Programme
    General Study Programme
    European Component Initiative

    Optional

    Depending on their individual choices the countries can contribute to the following programmes, listed according to:

    Launchers
    Earth Observation
    Human Spaceflight and Exploration
    Telecommunications
    Navigation
    Space Situational Awareness
    Technology

    ESA_LAB@

    ESA has formed partnerships with universities. ESA_LAB@ refers to research laboratories at universities. Currently there are ESA_LAB@

    Technische Universität Darmstadt (DE)
    École des hautes études commerciales de Paris (HEC Paris) (FR)
    Université de recherche Paris Sciences et Lettres (FR)
    The University of Central Lancashire (UK)

    Membership and contribution to ESA

    By 2015, ESA was an intergovernmental organization of 22 member states. Member states participate to varying degrees in the mandatory (25% of total expenditures in 2008) and optional space programmes (75% of total expenditures in 2008). The 2008 budget amounted to €3.0 billion whilst the 2009 budget amounted to €3.6 billion. The total budget amounted to about €3.7 billion in 2010, €3.99 billion in 2011, €4.02 billion in 2012, €4.28 billion in 2013, €4.10 billion in 2014 and €4.33 billion in 2015. English is the main language within ESA. Additionally, official documents are also provided in German and documents regarding the Spacelab are also provided in Italian. If found appropriate, the agency may conduct its correspondence in any language of a member state.

    Non-full member states
    Slovenia
    Since 2016, Slovenia has been an associated member of the ESA.

    Latvia
    Latvia became the second current associated member on 30 June 2020, when the Association Agreement was signed by ESA Director Jan Wörner and the Minister of Education and Science of Latvia, Ilga Šuplinska in Riga. The Saeima ratified it on July 27. Previously associated members were Austria, Norway and Finland, all of which later joined ESA as full members.

    Canada
    Since 1 January 1979, Canada has had the special status of a Cooperating State within ESA. By virtue of this accord, The Canadian Space Agency [Agence spatiale canadienne, ASC] (CA) takes part in ESA’s deliberative bodies and decision-making and also in ESA’s programmes and activities. Canadian firms can bid for and receive contracts to work on programmes. The accord has a provision ensuring a fair industrial return to Canada. The most recent Cooperation Agreement was signed on 15 December 2010 with a term extending to 2020. For 2014, Canada’s annual assessed contribution to the ESA general budget was €6,059,449 (CAD$8,559,050). For 2017, Canada has increased its annual contribution to €21,600,000 (CAD$30,000,000).

    Enlargement

    After the decision of the ESA Council of 21/22 March 2001, the procedure for accession of the European states was detailed as described the document titled The Plan for European Co-operating States (PECS). Nations that want to become a full member of ESA do so in 3 stages. First a Cooperation Agreement is signed between the country and ESA. In this stage, the country has very limited financial responsibilities. If a country wants to co-operate more fully with ESA, it signs a European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement. The ECS Agreement makes companies based in the country eligible for participation in ESA procurements. The country can also participate in all ESA programmes, except for the Basic Technology Research Programme. While the financial contribution of the country concerned increases, it is still much lower than that of a full member state. The agreement is normally followed by a Plan For European Cooperating State (or PECS Charter). This is a 5-year programme of basic research and development activities aimed at improving the nation’s space industry capacity. At the end of the 5-year period, the country can either begin negotiations to become a full member state or an associated state or sign a new PECS Charter.

    During the Ministerial Meeting in December 2014, ESA ministers approved a resolution calling for discussions to begin with Israel, Australia and South Africa on future association agreements. The ministers noted that “concrete cooperation is at an advanced stage” with these nations and that “prospects for mutual benefits are existing”.

    A separate space exploration strategy resolution calls for further co-operation with the United States, Russia and China on “LEO” exploration, including a continuation of ISS cooperation and the development of a robust plan for the coordinated use of space transportation vehicles and systems for exploration purposes, participation in robotic missions for the exploration of the Moon, the robotic exploration of Mars, leading to a broad Mars Sample Return mission in which Europe should be involved as a full partner, and human missions beyond LEO in the longer term.”

    Relationship with the European Union

    The political perspective of the European Union (EU) was to make ESA an agency of the EU by 2014, although this date was not met. The EU member states provide most of ESA’s funding, and they are all either full ESA members or observers.

    History

    At the time ESA was formed, its main goals did not encompass human space flight; rather it considered itself to be primarily a scientific research organisation for uncrewed space exploration in contrast to its American and Soviet counterparts. It is therefore not surprising that the first non-Soviet European in space was not an ESA astronaut on a European space craft; it was Czechoslovak Vladimír Remek who in 1978 became the first non-Soviet or American in space (the first man in space being Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union) – on a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, followed by the Pole Mirosław Hermaszewski and East German Sigmund Jähn in the same year. This Soviet co-operation programme, known as Intercosmos, primarily involved the participation of Eastern bloc countries. In 1982, however, Jean-Loup Chrétien became the first non-Communist Bloc astronaut on a flight to the Soviet Salyut 7 space station.

    Because Chrétien did not officially fly into space as an ESA astronaut, but rather as a member of the French CNES astronaut corps, the German Ulf Merbold is considered the first ESA astronaut to fly into space. He participated in the STS-9 Space Shuttle mission that included the first use of the European-built Spacelab in 1983. STS-9 marked the beginning of an extensive ESA/NASA joint partnership that included dozens of space flights of ESA astronauts in the following years. Some of these missions with Spacelab were fully funded and organizationally and scientifically controlled by ESA (such as two missions by Germany and one by Japan) with European astronauts as full crew members rather than guests on board. Beside paying for Spacelab flights and seats on the shuttles, ESA continued its human space flight co-operation with the Soviet Union and later Russia, including numerous visits to Mir.

    During the latter half of the 1980s, European human space flights changed from being the exception to routine and therefore, in 1990, the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany was established. It selects and trains prospective astronauts and is responsible for the co-ordination with international partners, especially with regard to the International Space Station. As of 2006, the ESA astronaut corps officially included twelve members, including nationals from most large European countries except the United Kingdom.

    In the summer of 2008, ESA started to recruit new astronauts so that final selection would be due in spring 2009. Almost 10,000 people registered as astronaut candidates before registration ended in June 2008. 8,413 fulfilled the initial application criteria. Of the applicants, 918 were chosen to take part in the first stage of psychological testing, which narrowed down the field to 192. After two-stage psychological tests and medical evaluation in early 2009, as well as formal interviews, six new members of the European Astronaut Corps were selected – five men and one woman.

    Cooperation with other countries and organizations

    ESA has signed co-operation agreements with the following states that currently neither plan to integrate as tightly with ESA institutions as Canada, nor envision future membership of ESA: Argentina, Brazil, China, India (for the Chandrayan mission), Russia and Turkey.

    Additionally, ESA has joint projects with the European Union, NASA of the United States and is participating in the International Space Station together with the United States (NASA), Russia and Japan (JAXA).

    European Union
    ESA and EU member states
    ESA-only members
    EU-only members

    ESA is not an agency or body of the European Union (EU), and has non-EU countries (Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) as members. There are however ties between the two, with various agreements in place and being worked on, to define the legal status of ESA with regard to the EU.

    There are common goals between ESA and the EU. ESA has an EU liaison office in Brussels. On certain projects, the EU and ESA co-operate, such as the upcoming Galileo satellite navigation system. Space policy has since December 2009 been an area for voting in the European Council. Under the European Space Policy of 2007, the EU, ESA and its Member States committed themselves to increasing co-ordination of their activities and programmes and to organising their respective roles relating to space.

    The Lisbon Treaty of 2009 reinforces the case for space in Europe and strengthens the role of ESA as an R&D space agency. Article 189 of the Treaty gives the EU a mandate to elaborate a European space policy and take related measures, and provides that the EU should establish appropriate relations with ESA.

    Former Italian astronaut Umberto Guidoni, during his tenure as a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009, stressed the importance of the European Union as a driving force for space exploration, “…since other players are coming up such as India and China it is becoming ever more important that Europeans can have an independent access to space. We have to invest more into space research and technology in order to have an industry capable of competing with other international players.”

    The first EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration took place in Prague on 22 and 23 October 2009. A road map which would lead to a common vision and strategic planning in the area of space exploration was discussed. Ministers from all 29 EU and ESA members as well as members of parliament were in attendance.

    National space organisations of member states:

    The Centre National d’Études Spatiales(FR) (CNES) (National Centre for Space Study) is the French government space agency (administratively, a “public establishment of industrial and commercial character”). Its headquarters are in central Paris. CNES is the main participant on the Ariane project. Indeed, CNES designed and tested all Ariane family rockets (mainly from its centre in Évry near Paris)
    The UK Space Agency is a partnership of the UK government departments which are active in space. Through the UK Space Agency, the partners provide delegates to represent the UK on the various ESA governing bodies. Each partner funds its own programme.
    The Italian Space Agency A.S.I. – Agenzia Spaziale Italiana was founded in 1988 to promote, co-ordinate and conduct space activities in Italy. Operating under the Ministry of the Universities and of Scientific and Technological Research, the agency cooperates with numerous entities active in space technology and with the president of the Council of Ministers. Internationally, the ASI provides Italy’s delegation to the Council of the European Space Agency and to its subordinate bodies.
    The German Aerospace Center (DLR)[Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V.] is the national research centre for aviation and space flight of the Federal Republic of Germany and of other member states in the Helmholtz Association. Its extensive research and development projects are included in national and international cooperative programmes. In addition to its research projects, the centre is the assigned space agency of Germany bestowing headquarters of German space flight activities and its associates.
    The Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA)(ES) (National Institute for Aerospace Technique) is a Public Research Organization specialised in aerospace research and technology development in Spain. Among other functions, it serves as a platform for space research and acts as a significant testing facility for the aeronautic and space sector in the country.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency

    ESA has a long history of collaboration with NASA. Since ESA’s astronaut corps was formed, the Space Shuttle has been the primary launch vehicle used by ESA’s astronauts to get into space through partnership programmes with NASA. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Spacelab programme was an ESA-NASA joint research programme that had ESA develop and manufacture orbital labs for the Space Shuttle for several flights on which ESA participate with astronauts in experiments.

    In robotic science mission and exploration missions, NASA has been ESA’s main partner. Cassini–Huygens was a joint NASA-ESA mission, along with the Infrared Space Observatory, INTEGRAL, SOHO, and others.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration/European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) Cassini Spacecraft.

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Integral spacecraft

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation] (EU)/National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSOHO satellite. Launched in 1995.

    Also, the Hubble Space Telescope is a joint project of NASA and ESA.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration/European Space Agency[La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Hubble Space Telescope

    ESA-NASA joint projects include the James Webb Space Telescope and the proposed Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency/European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation]Canadian Space Agency [Agence Spatiale Canadienne](CA) James Webb Space Telescope annotated. Scheduled for launch in December 2021.

    Gravity is talking. Lisa will listen. Dialogos of Eide.

    The European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration eLISA space based, the future of gravitational wave research.

    NASA has committed to provide support to ESA’s proposed MarcoPolo-R mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth for further analysis. NASA and ESA will also likely join together for a Mars Sample Return Mission. In October 2020 the ESA entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NASA to work together on the Artemis program, which will provide an orbiting lunar gateway and also accomplish the first manned lunar landing in 50 years, whose team will include the first woman on the Moon.

    NASA ARTEMIS spacecraft depiction.

    Cooperation with other space agencies

    Since China has started to invest more money into space activities, the Chinese Space Agency[中国国家航天局] (CN) has sought international partnerships. ESA is, beside, The Russian Federal Space Agency Государственная корпорация по космической деятельности «Роскосмос»](RU) one of its most important partners. Two space agencies cooperated in the development of the Double Star Mission. In 2017, ESA sent two astronauts to China for two weeks sea survival training with Chinese astronauts in Yantai, Shandong.

    ESA entered into a major joint venture with Russia in the form of the CSTS, the preparation of French Guiana spaceport for launches of Soyuz-2 rockets and other projects. With India, ESA agreed to send instruments into space aboard the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. ESA is also co-operating with Japan, the most notable current project in collaboration with JAXA is the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.

    European Space Agency [La Agencia Espacial Europea] [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [国立研究開発法人宇宙航空研究開発機構](JP) Bepicolumbo in flight illustration. Artist’s impression of BepiColombo – ESA’s first mission to Mercury. ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be operated from ESOC Germany.

    ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be operated from ESOC Germany.

    Speaking to reporters at an air show near Moscow in August 2011, ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain said ESA and Russia’s Roskosmos space agency would “carry out the first flight to Mars together.”

     
  • richardmitnick 3:13 pm on December 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Can Israelis Put Two Landers on the Moon at Once?", , Beresheet and Beresheet 2, Lunar research, SpaceIL,   

    From The New York Times: “Can Israelis Put Two Landers on the Moon at Once?” 

    From The New York Times

    Dec. 23, 2020
    Kenneth Chang

    8

    6

    1
    SpaceIL’s control room in Yahud, Israel, during last year’s mission, shortly before the spacecraft crashed into the moon. Credit: Israel Aerospace Industries/EPA, via Shutterstock.

    3
    SpaceIL’s Beresheet Lunar Lander.

    4
    Beresheet 2 depiction. Credit: Haim Zach, GPO.

    An Israeli nonprofit will try again to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon after its first attempt ended in a crash last year.

    The spacecraft, named Beresheet, made it to lunar orbit in April 2019, but plummeted to the surface during its final descent.

    On Wednesday, SpaceIL, the nonprofit, announced Beresheet 2, a follow-up that is to be more complex — two landers as well as an orbiter — although the organization says it will fit into roughly the same budget as the first mission: about $100 million. Beresheet 2 is to launch in the first half of 2024.

    Beresheet means “Genesis” or “in the beginning” in Hebrew.

    In an interview, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub, two of the founders of SpaceIL, said they did not want to simply build and launch a carbon copy of the first attempt.

    “We’re looking to do something that will be unique, something that was never done before,” Mr. Damari said. “Not just, you know, repeat the same mission and just change the ending. We’re looking to do something that will be meaningful.”

    In an interview, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub, two of the founders of SpaceIL, said they did not want to simply build and launch a carbon copy of the first attempt.

    “We’re looking to do something that will be unique, something that was never done before,” Mr. Damari said. “Not just, you know, repeat the same mission and just change the ending. We’re looking to do something that will be meaningful.”

    The two landers would be much smaller than the first spacecraft — about 260 pounds each, fully fueled, compared with a bit less than 1,300 pounds for Beresheet — and they would land on different parts of the moon. The orbiter would circle the moon for at least a couple of years.

    The three spacecraft of Beresheet 2 would together weigh about 1,400 pounds.

    Even though the designs would be new, they would reuse many aspects of Beresheet, and the founders said they had learned lessons that would increase the chances of success for the second attempt. SpaceIL will again collaborate with Israel Aerospace Industries, a large satellite manufacturer.

    An investigation revealed that a component tracking the lander’s orientation failed, and as mission controllers tried to reset that, they inadvertently shut down the engine, and the spacecraft fell to its destruction.

    In May last year, NASA released a photograph taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft that showed the scar that Beresheet made on the moon.

    3
    Left: Beresheet impact site. Right: An image processed to highlight changes near the landing site among photos taken before and after the landing, revealing a white impact halo. Other craters are visible in the right image because there is a slight change in lighting conditions among the before and after images. Scale bar is 100 meters. North is up. Both panels are 490 meters wide. Credits: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

    SpaceIL hopes that international partnerships will pay for half of the cost of Beresheet 2. Mr. Damari said the United Arab Emirates, a small but wealthy country in the Persian Gulf that has set up an ambitious space program in recent years, was one of seven nations interested in taking part. He declined to name the other six.

    “We’re going to do something that will have a global impact,” he said.

    The Israel Space Agency is likely to provide some financing. SpaceIL will have to raise the rest from private donors.

    Two of the biggest benefactors of the original Beresheet mission — Morris Kahn, a South African-Israeli billionaire who served as SpaceIL’s chairman, and Sheldon G. Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate — are not currently involved with Beresheet 2. Mr. Kahn initially said he would contribute to a second SpaceIL moonshot.

    SpaceIL started as one of the competitors in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, which offered $20 million for the first private entity to softly land a spacecraft on the moon. That endeavor turned out to be harder than many expected, and none of the teams, including SpaceIL, were able to do so before the prize expired at the end of 2018.

    Even without the potential financial reward, SpaceIL pressed on, hoping that it would inspire younger Israelis to pursue careers in science and engineering.

    The moon was the focus of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s but then was largely ignored until recent years.

    China has successfully landed three spacecraft there since 2013, including a mission this month to bring back rocks from the moon for the first time since the Soviet Union’s Luna robotic probe in 1976.

    NASA is also looking to send robotic missions to the moon, hiring private companies to take payloads. That first commercial mission may launch as soon as next year.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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  • richardmitnick 9:53 pm on December 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Confirms New SIMPLEx Mission Small Satellite to Blaze Trails Studying Lunar Surface", , , , , Lunar research,   

    From NASA JPL-Caltech: “NASA Confirms New SIMPLEx Mission Small Satellite to Blaze Trails Studying Lunar Surface” 

    NASA JPL Banner

    From NASA JPL-Caltech

    December 2, 2020

    Grey Hautaluoma /
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0668 /
    grey.hautaluoma-1@nasa.gov /

    Alana Johnson
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1501
    alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

    Ian J. O’Neill
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-2649
    ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

    NASA Lunar Trailblazer depiction.


    Peering into the Moon’s permanently shadowed regions, Lunar Trailblazer will detect signatures of water ice in reflected light, and it will pinpoint the locations of micro-cold traps less than a football field in size. Credit: Lockheed Martin.

    Producing maps to locate ice or water trapped in rock at the Moon’s surface, Lunar Trailblazer will help support NASA’s efforts to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon.

    A small-satellite mission to understand the lunar water cycle – detecting and mapping water on the lunar surface in order to investigate how its form, abundance, and location relate to geology – has received NASA approval to proceed with the next phase of its development.

    On Nov. 24, the Lunar Trailblazer, a mission selected under NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) program, passed its Key Decision Point-C (KDP-C) milestone, obtaining agency-level endorsement to begin final design of hardware and build. The milestone also provides the project’s official schedule and budget determination.

    “Lunar Trailblazer will confirm whether water on the Moon is tightly bound in crystalline rock, as recently suggested by NASA’s SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) observations, or loosely bound and mobile as a function of temperature,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “This SIMPLEx mission bolsters our portfolio of targeted science missions designed to test pioneering technologies while reducing overall costs using new streamlined processes.”

    Producing the highest-resolution basemaps to locate ice or water trapped in rock at the Moon’s surface, Lunar Trailblazer will help support NASA’s Artemis program, which includes establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon by the end of the decade and preparing for crewed missions to Mars.

    “We’re excited to help answer big planetary science questions with a small satellite by making the new maps of water on the Moon,” said Bethany Ehlmann, the mission’s principal investigator, of Caltech. “Given the importance of water on the Moon for future robotic and human missions, Lunar Trailblazer will provide critical basemaps to guide future exploration.”

    Peering into the Moon’s permanently shadowed regions, Lunar Trailblazer will detect signatures of ice in reflected light, and it will pinpoint the locations of micro-cold traps less than a football field in size. Collecting measurements at multiple times of day over sunlit regions, the mission will help scientists understand whether the water signature on the illuminated surface changes as the lunar surface temperature changes by hundreds of degrees over the course of a lunar day.

    “Lunar Trailblazer will vastly advance our understanding of water cycles on airless bodies like the Moon,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “By measuring both direct light and low levels of terrain-scattered light, Lunar Trailblazer will generate comprehensive maps of surface water ice, even in the Moon’s darkest regions.”

    Selected in 2019, Lunar Trailblazer is the second mission from the current round of programs to receive confirmation and plans to deliver its flight system in October 2022, with a launch currently planned for February 2025. The Janus mission received its confirmation in early September 2020 and will investigate the formation and evolution of small, deep-space “rubble pile” asteroids. The Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE) mission is still in formulation, with its KDP-C planned for summer of 2021.

    “Lunar Trailblazer has a talented, multi-institutional team whose collective effort resulted in a successful formulation phase and confirmation review,” said Calina Seybold, Lunar Trailblazer Project manager, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “I am thrilled that the team has earned the privilege of continuing to our final design and fabrication phase.”

    For information on NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer mission, visit:

    https://trailblazer.caltech.edu/

    For information on NASA’s small satellite activities, visit:

    https://www.nasa.gov/smallsat-institute

    Lunar Trailblazer is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California as part of the Solar System Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington and guided by agency priorities and the Decadal Survey process of the National Academy of Sciences. Managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, JPL also provides system engineering and mission assurance as well as navigation. Lockheed Martin provides the spacecraft and integrates the flight system, under contract with Caltech.

    SIMPLEx mission investigations will be managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as part of the Solar System Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The program conducts space science investigations in the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, guided by NASA’s agency priorities and the Decadal Survey process of the National Academy of Sciences.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

    Caltech Logo

     
  • richardmitnick 9:20 am on December 2, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "China’s Chang’e 5 mission has landed on the moon", , Lunar research   

    From EarthSky: “China’s Chang’e 5 mission has landed on the moon” 

    1

    From EarthSky

    December 2, 2020
    Lia Rovira

    China’s robotic Chang’e 5 launched successfully last week atop a Chinese Long March 5 rocket. Now it’s reported to have landed on the moon. It’s scheduled to bring back moon rocks later this month.

    1
    China’s Chang’e 5 moon lander and ascent vehicle separated from the orbiter early on Monday, December 1, 2020, ahead of its landing in the moon’s Ocean of Storms. Image via CCTV/ South China Morning Post.

    China’s Chang’e 5 mission – launched November 23, 2020, and in orbit around the moon since November 28 – successfully set a lander down on the lunar surface on December 1, 2020. Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, reported:

    “China’s Chang’e-5 spacecraft successfully landed on the near side of the moon late Tuesday (December 1) and sent back images, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced. At 11:11 p.m.[local time in China], the spacecraft landed at the preselected landing area near 51.8 degrees west longitude and 43.1 degrees north latitude.”

    If all goes according to plan, the Chang’e 5 mission will carry moon rocks back to Earth in mid-December. They will be the first moon rocks to arrive back on Earth since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976.

    Xinhua explained that the Chang’e 5 spacecraft consists of an orbiter, a lander, an ascender and a returner. The news agency reported:

    “At 10:57 p.m. Tuesday, the lander-ascender combination of Chang’e-5, from about 15 km above the lunar surface, started a powered descent with a variable thrust engine ignited. Its relative vertical velocity to the moon was lowered from 1.7 km per second to zero.

    The probe was adjusted and approached the lunar surface during the descent.

    After automatically detecting and identifying obstacles, the probe selected the site and touched down on the north of the Mons Rumker … on the near side of the moon.

    During the landing process, the cameras aboard the lander took images of the landing area.”

    2
    Nuno Sequeira in Lisbon, Portugal captured this image of the moon on December 1, 2020 and kindly marked Chang’e 5’s landing site. Nuno wrote, “The approximate landing zone of Chang’e 5 probe … It will enjoy 2 weeks of sunlight.” Thank you, Nuno!

    The landing site of the mission – the Mons Rumker area – is in the vast lunar volcanic plain known as Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms). Parts of this region on the moon have been explored by other moon missions, including NASA’s Apollo 12 in 1969. Rocks in the Mons Rumker region are thought to have formed just 1.2 billion years ago. In contrast, the moon rocks brought home by the Apollo astronauts – between 1969 and 1972 – are much older. The Planetary Society, a U.S. nonprofit space advocacy group, explained:

    “The samples should be the youngest ever returned to Earth: just 1.2 billion years old, when multicellular life may have already evolved on our planet. Chang’e-5 will help scientists understand what was happening late in the moon’s history, as well as how Earth and the solar system evolved.”

    3
    This image of Mons Rumker on the moon was captured by Apollo 15 astronauts in 1971. It is about 43 miles (70 km) wide and rises nearly a mile (1.6 km) above the surrounding area. Image via Planetary Society.

    The Chang’e 5 spacecraft’s journey to the moon lasted 112 hours. Chinese space engineers reported on November 28 that the craft had successfully entered orbit around the moon.

    The mission launched November 23 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China’s Hainan province. It was carried atop a Long March 5 rocket.

    4
    The mission, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, will seek to collect lunar material to help scientists understand more about the moon’s origins and formation. Image via China Global Television Network.

    Chang’e 5 is not the only ongoing sample-return mission. Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission is scheduled to return a lander from space to the continent of Australia on December 6, 2020; it will be carrying pieces of the asteroid Ryugu collected over two years ago.

    JAXA/Hayabusa 2 Credit: JAXA/Akihiro Ikeshita.

    More recently, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe took a sample of the asteroid Bennu; that material is expected to be returned to Earth in September 2023.

    NASA OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft.

    And it seems that China has big plans for the moon. Speaking to astronauts aboard the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft through a video call in 2013, Chinese president Xi Jinping said:

    “The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger. The Chinese people will take bigger strides to explore further into space.”

    China became the first country to send an unmanned rover to the far side of the moon last year. Last July, China launched its first unmanned mission to Mars – Tianwen-1 – expected to arrive in February 2021.

    3
    Image of China’s Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover Tianwen-1 undergoing tests during 2019.

    4
    Tianwen-1 depiction. https://www.dw.com

    If Tianwen-1 is successful, Beijing hopes eventually to send a manned mission to Mars. There are also plans to bring up a permanent space station by 2022, as well as sending astronauts back to the moon by the 2030s.

    If this would prove successful, China would become the second country in the world to put a human on the moon, after the U.S.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.orgin 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:05 pm on October 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon", Lunar research,   

    From NASA/DLR SOFIA: “NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon” 

    NASA SOFIA Banner

    NASA SOFIA

    From NASA/DLR SOFIA

    Oct. 26, 2020

    Felicia Chou
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-0257
    felicia.chou@nasa.gov

    Alison Hawkes
    Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, Calif.
    650-604-4789
    alison.hawkes@nasa.gov

    1
    This illustration highlights the Moon’s Clavius Crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in the lunar soil there, along with an image of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that found sunlit lunar water.
    Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter.

    NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places.

    SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. Previous observations of the Moon’s surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH). Data from this location reveal water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water – trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface. The results are published in the latest issue of Nature Astronomy.

    “We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”

    As a comparison, the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water than what SOFIA detected in the lunar soil. Despite the small amounts, the discovery raises new questions about how water is created and how it persists on the harsh, airless lunar surface.

    Water is a precious resource in deep space and a key ingredient of life as we know it. Whether the water SOFIA found is easily accessible for use as a resource remains to be determined. Under NASA’s Artemis program, the agency is eager to learn all it can about the presence of water on the Moon in advance of sending the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024 and establishing a sustainable human presence there by the end of the decade.

    SOFIA’s results build on years of previous research examining the presence of water on the Moon. When the Apollo astronauts first returned from the Moon in 1969, it was thought to be completely dry. Orbital and impactor missions over the past 20 years, such as NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, confirmed ice in permanently shadowed craters around the Moon’s poles.

    NASA/ LCROSS

    Meanwhile, several spacecraft – including the Cassini mission and Deep Impact comet mission, as well as the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 mission – and NASA’s ground-based Infrared Telescope Facility, looked broadly across the lunar surface and found evidence of hydration in sunnier regions.

    NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens Spacecraft.

    NASA Deep Impact spacecraft.

    ISRO Chandrayaan 2.

    NASA Infrared Telescope facility Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA, 4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level.

    Yet those missions were unable to definitively distinguish the form in which it was present – either H2O or OH.

    “Prior to the SOFIA observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration,” said Casey Honniball, the lead author who published the results from her graduate thesis work at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu. “But we didn’t know how much, if any, was actually water molecules – like we drink every day – or something more like drain cleaner.”


    SOFIA Discovers Water on a Sunlit Surface of the Moon
    Scientists using NASA’s telescope on an airplane, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, discovered water on a sunlit surface of the Moon for the first time. SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that allows astronomers to study the solar system and beyond in ways that are not possible with ground-based telescopes. Molecular water, H2O, was found in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth in the Moon’s southern hemisphere. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places.
    Credits: NASA/Ames Research Center.

    SOFIA offered a new means of looking at the Moon. Flying at altitudes of up to 45,000 feet, this modified Boeing 747SP jetliner with a 106-inch diameter telescope reaches above 99% of the water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere to get a clearer view of the infrared universe. Using its Faint Object infraRed CAmera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST), SOFIA was able to pick up the specific wavelength unique to water molecules, at 6.1 microns, and discovered a relatively surprising concentration in sunny Clavius Crater.

    “Without a thick atmosphere, water on the sunlit lunar surface should just be lost to space,” said Honniball, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Yet somehow we’re seeing it. Something is generating the water, and something must be trapping it there.”

    Several forces could be at play in the delivery or creation of this water. Micrometeorites raining down on the lunar surface, carrying small amounts of water, could deposit the water on the lunar surface upon impact. Another possibility is there could be a two-step process whereby the Sun’s solar wind delivers hydrogen to the lunar surface and causes a chemical reaction with oxygen-bearing minerals in the soil to create hydroxyl. Meanwhile, radiation from the bombardment of micrometeorites could be transforming that hydroxyl into water.

    How the water then gets stored – making it possible to accumulate – also raises some intriguing questions. The water could be trapped into tiny beadlike structures in the soil that form out of the high heat created by micrometeorite impacts. Another possibility is that the water could be hidden between grains of lunar soil and sheltered from the sunlight – potentially making it a bit more accessible than water trapped in beadlike structures.

    For a mission designed to look at distant, dim objects such as black holes, star clusters, and galaxies, SOFIA’s spotlight on Earth’s nearest and brightest neighbor was a departure from business as usual. The telescope operators typically use a guide camera to track stars, keeping the telescope locked steadily on its observing target. But the Moon is so close and bright that it fills the guide camera’s entire field of view. With no stars visible, it was unclear if the telescope could reliably track the Moon. To determine this, in August 2018, the operators decided to try a test observation.

    “It was, in fact, the first time SOFIA has looked at the Moon, and we weren’t even completely sure if we would get reliable data, but questions about the Moon’s water compelled us to try,” said Naseem Rangwala, SOFIA’s project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “It’s incredible that this discovery came out of what was essentially a test, and now that we know we can do this, we’re planning more flights to do more observations.”

    SOFIA’s follow-up flights will look for water in additional sunlit locations and during different lunar phases to learn more about how the water is produced, stored, and moved across the Moon. The data will add to the work of future Moon missions, such as NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), to create the first water resource maps of the Moon for future human space exploration.

    In the same issue of Nature Astronomy, scientists have published a paper using theoretical models and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data, pointing out that water could be trapped in small shadows, where temperatures stay below freezing, across more of the Moon than currently expected. The results can be found here.

    “Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers,” said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries.”

    B-roll footage related to this finding is available at:

    https://go.nasa.gov/2TnDWSd

    Participate in a Reddit Ask Me Anything on our Moon exploration activities at 1 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 27:

    http://reddit.com/r/space

    Learn more about SOFIA at:

    https://www.nasa.gov/sofia

    NASA SOFIA GREAT [German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies]

    NASA SOFIA High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus HAWC+ Camera

    NASA/SOFIA Forcast

    See the full article here .

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    SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope. It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center, DLR. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the SOFIA program, science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart. The aircraft is maintained and operated from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Hangar 703, in Palmdale, California.

    DLR Bloc

     
  • richardmitnick 11:27 am on May 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Carbon emissions on the moon put theory of moon birth in doubt", , Changes may have to be made to the theory of the moon's birth.hanges may have to be made to the theory of the moon's birth., Evidence of embedded carbon emissions on the moon., JAXA KAGUYA lunar orbiter, Lunar research   

    From phys.org: “Carbon emissions on the moon put theory of moon birth in doubt” 


    From phys.org

    May 7, 2020
    Bob Yirka

    1
    Illustration of carbon ions emitted from the Moon. Credit: S. Yokota

    A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in Japan has found evidence of embedded carbon emissions on the moon. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of carbon data from the KAGUYA lunar orbiter and what they learned from it.

    JAXA Kaguya lunar oribiter

    After the manned moon missions of the 60s and 70s brought back samples of lunar rocks, scientists began formulating a theory to explain how the moon came to exist. That theory reached fruition in recent years as it became accepted that the moon was formed from material that was expelled when a large planet collided with the Earth. Part of the theory hinges on data from the moon rocks that indicate volatile carbon vaporizing from the moon due to the heat from the massive impact. But now, it appears that there is ancient carbon embedded in the moon’s surface, suggesting some changes may have to be made to the theory of the moon’s birth.

    The work involved studying a year and a half of data from the KAGUYA lunar orbiter, focusing specifically on carbon emissions. They found that the moon was emitting more carbon than has been thought, and more than could be accounted for by new carbon additions, such as the solar wind or collisions with micrometeoroids. They also found that some parts of the moon have been emitting more carbon than others—the basaltic plains, for example, emit more carbon than the highlands. The researchers suggest this is because surface material on the plains is newer than material in the highlands and thus has had less time to vaporize.

    The findings by the researchers suggest that the moon has a large amount of ancient carbon beneath its surface, and it has likely been there since the moon was formed. How it could have persisted on a very hot early moon remains a mystery. The researchers also note that their approach could be applied to the study of other celestial bodies in the solar system and that they intend to use it to learn more about carbon emissions from Mercury and Phobos.

    See the full article here .

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    About Science X in 100 words
    Science X™ is a leading web-based science, research and technology news service which covers a full range of topics. These include physics, earth science, medicine, nanotechnology, electronics, space, biology, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, mathematics and other sciences and technologies. Launched in 2004 (Physorg.com), Science X’s readership has grown steadily to include 5 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Science X publishes approximately 200 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Science X community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.
    Mission 12 reasons for reading daily news on Science X Organization Key editors and writersinclude 1.75 million scientists, researchers, and engineers every month. Phys.org publishes approximately 100 quality articles every day, offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of sci-tech developments world-wide. Quancast 2009 includes Phys.org in its list of the Global Top 2,000 Websites. Phys.org community members enjoy access to many personalized features such as social networking, a personal home page set-up, RSS/XML feeds, article comments and ranking, the ability to save favorite articles, a daily newsletter, and other options.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:39 am on April 28, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "This is the most comprehensive map of the moon’s geology yet", Lunar research,   

    From Science News: “This is the most comprehensive map of the moon’s geology yet” 

    From Science News

    April 24, 2020
    Maria Temming

    Cartographers merged Apollo-era maps and modern lunar observations to make the new graphic.

    1
    A new map of the moon is the most comprehensive geologic map of the lunar surface (nearside shown left, farside shown right). Different colors designate different surface features, such as lunar highlands (dark earth tones) and ancient lava flows (reds and purples).Credit: GSFC/NASA, USGS

    In the most comprehensive lunar map yet, the moon looks like it’s been playing paintball.

    Each splash of color identifies a discrete rock or sediment formation, including craters, basins and ancient lava fields. For instance, “the darker, more earth tones are these highland-type terrains, and the reds and the purples tend to be more of these volcanic and lava flow materials,” says geologist James Skinner, who oversees the production of standardized maps for solar system bodies at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz. (For more details on exactly what those colors mean, check out the map in all its glory here.)

    The Unified Geologic Map of the Moon, released April 20 by the USGS, as it’s called, combines information from six regional lunar maps created during the Apollo era, as well as recent spacecraft observations. The modern data include views of the north and south lunar poles made by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and observations around the equator from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s SELENE lunar orbiter (SN: 7/10/19).

    NASA/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

    4
    JAXA SELENE lunar orbiter

    This lunar cartography project was trickier than just fitting Apollo-era maps together like puzzle pieces and using new data to tweak the details — in part, because the edges of the regional maps didn’t line up. Many surface features at the boundaries between neighboring maps were labeled with inconsistent names, descriptions and ages.


    See USGS’ new geologic map of the moon
    Different colors on a new geologic map of the moon designate different types of rock and sediment formations on the moon. For instance, craters associated with the Eratosthenian period on the moon (about 3.2 billion to 1.1 billion years ago) are typically marked green. Craters from the older Imbrian period (around 3.9 billion to 3.2 billion years ago) are generally painted blue.

    Those discrepancies arose because the Apollo-era maps were created by separate research groups, and two different teams looking at the same parts of the moon could interpret what they saw differently. For instance, one group might have seen something jagged on the surface and called it a fault, whereas another team could have read it as a fragment ejected during the formation of a crater.

    Skinner and colleagues reconciled those discrepancies by analyzing information from all six regional maps, along with the new lunar orbiter observations, to figure out the proper identifications for different surface features. That allowed the team to draw up a comprehensive geologic map of the whole moon.

    Detailed observations from the lunar orbiters were especially helpful for clearing up uncertainties in how different craters overlapped with each other, which revealed the craters’ relative ages. Hammering out crater formation timelines gives insight into the moon’s history (SN: 3/26/18).

    The new map could also inform future human missions to the moon by revealing regions that may be rich in useful resources or areas that need more detailed mapping to land a spacecraft there safely (SN: 12/16/19).

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:38 am on March 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Tests complete for Orion", Artemis 1- an uncrewed test flight around the Moon that paves the way for the Artemis 3 mission which will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024., , Lunar research   

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe: “Tests complete for Orion” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe

    United space in Europe

    03/16/2020

    1

    The first Orion spacecraft that will fly around the Moon as part of Artemis to return humans to the lunar surface has finished its space-environment tests at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio, USA.

    NASA ARTEMIS spacecraft depiction

    The vehicle – that can transport up to four astronauts – consists of the European Service Module, the Crew Module and connecting adapter and all elements have now been given the stamp of approval for spaceflight after being subjected to the vacuum, extreme temperatures and electro-magnetic interference it will encounter during its trip to the Moon.

    Orion arrived at Plum Brook Station – the only centre large enough to test the spacecraft – on 26 November and passed two months of thermal-vacuum tests subjecting the spacecraft to temperatures ranging from –175°C to 75°C in vacuum.

    After passing the trial by temperature, Orion went through electromagnetic interference testing to ensure the electronics worked well together – the European Service Module has over 11 km over wiring to gather information and send commands to its 31 engines, propellant tanks, solar wings and more.

    Orion is a key component of Artemis 1, an uncrewed test flight around the Moon that paves the way for the Artemis 3 mission which will land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024. ESA is designing and supplying the European Service Module for Orion – the bottom part of the spacecraft in the picture – that provides electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen as well as keeping the spacecraft at the right temperature and on course.

    Orion will now ship to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where it will be further prepared for launch, including assembling the solar panels and more individual tests.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 10:18 am on March 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ESA Gateway mission, Europe’s contribution will monitor radiation to gain a complete understanding of cosmic and solar rays in unexplored areas as the orbital outpost is assembled around the Moon., Lunar research, NASA’s first investigation to fly aboard the Gateway is a Sun-oriented space weather experiment to observe solar particles and solar wind.   

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe: “European Gateway experiment will monitor radiation in deep space” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe

    From United Space in Europe

    03/13/2020

    The first science experiments that will be hosted on the Gateway, the international research outpost orbiting the Moon, have been selected by ESA and NASA.

    1
    Gateway. ESA.

    Europe’s contribution will monitor radiation to gain a complete understanding of cosmic and solar rays in unexplored areas as the orbital outpost is assembled around the Moon.

    The first module for the Gateway, the Power and Propulsion Element, is set to launch on the second Artemis mission and will host two external scientific investigations.

    NASA ARTEMIS spacecraft depiction

    ESA’s hardware will actively monitor radiation at all times and return data for all scientists from participating countries to consult.

    2
    This composite image shows a SOHO image of the Sun and an artist’s impression of Earth’s magnetosphere.

    As the Gateway module flies to its position in a halo-like orbit around the Moon, it will pass through the Van Allen radiation belt – an area around Earth where high-energy particles are trapped by our planet’s magnetic field. The particles can cause more radiation damage to humans, and the hardware will provide useful information on to how to keep astronauts safe as they pass through the belt.

    Once in position, the Gateway will orbit the Moon flying as close as 3000 km from the lunar surface and at its furthest, 70 000 km. The radiation investigation will continue to monitor the changes in protons, electrons and heavy ions and neutrons as they hit the measuring instruments.


    Angelic halo orbit chosen for humankind’s first lunar outpost.

    Heavy interactions in space

    “Heavy neutrons are of particular interest for us,” says ESA’s Science Team Leader of Human and Robotic Exploration Jennifer Ngo-Anh “some cosmic rays hit the Moon and interact with the surface to reflect as heavy neutrons that are particularly damaging to humans. We need to know more about where and how these particles form, to protect astronauts.”

    NASA’s first investigation to fly aboard the Gateway is a Sun-oriented space weather experiment to observe solar particles and solar wind. These phenomena are unpredictable and can cause violent outbursts of radiation that could hit astronauts as they venture farther from the protective atmosphere of Earth.

    4
    Gateway over Moon. ESA.

    “Both these experiments will work together to supply much-needed information to forecast radiation events and how to build better spacecraft and protection for astronauts on and around the Moon,” explains ESA’s director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker.

    “As we prepare for the next generation of European astronauts who will join their NASA colleagues in the Artemis programme, this research is of vital importance and shows how science and exploration go hand-in-hand as we move forward to the Moon.”

    5
    The space Gateway is the next structure to be launched by the partners of the International Space Station. During the 2020s, it will be assembled and operated in the vicinity of the Moon, where it will move between different orbits and enable the most distant human space missions ever attempted. Placed farther from Earth than the current Space Station – but not in a lunar orbit – the Gateway will offer a staging post for missions to the Moon and Mars.

    More science will be selected to fly aboard the Gateway in the future to take advantage of the unique environment in lunar orbit that cannot be duplicated on Earth or on the International Space Station.

    The Gateway will be built and assembled this decade as a platform for science in deep space and as an outpost for astronauts traveling onwards to the lunar surface. It is led by NASA. Following decisions at Space19+, ESA will build a Habitation module, communications systems and a refuelling module for the Gateway. The Canadian Space Agency has committed to provide advanced robotics for the lunar outpost. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency is also in discussion to supply elements.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:20 am on October 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Lunar research, Oxygen and metal from lunar regolith   

    From European Space Agency: “Metal from moondust” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    1
    Oxygen and metal from lunar regolith

    09/10/2019
    Beth Lomax – University of Glasgow

    On the left side of this before and after image is a pile of simulated lunar soil, or regolith; on the right is the same pile after essentially all the oxygen has been extracted from it, leaving a mixture of metal alloys. Both the oxygen and metal could be used in future by settlers on the Moon.

    Samples returned from the lunar surface confirm that lunar regolith is made up of 40-45% percent oxygen by weight, its single most abundant element.

    “This oxygen is an extremely valuable resource, but it is chemically bound in the material as oxides in the form of minerals or glass, and is therefore unavailable for immediate use,” explains researcher Beth Lomax of the University of Glasgow, whose PhD work is being supported through ESA’s Networking and Partnering Initiative, harnessing advanced academic research for space applications.

    “This research provides a proof-of-concept that we can extract and utilise all the oxygen from lunar regolith, leaving a potentially useful metallic by-product.

    “The processing was performed using a method called molten salt electrolysis. This is the first example of direct powder-to-powder processing of solid lunar regolith simulant that can extract virtually all the oxygen. Alternative methods of lunar oxygen extraction achieve significantly lower yields, or require the regolith to be melted with extreme temperatures of more than 1600°C.”

    The process involves placing the powdered regolith in a mesh-lined basket with molten calcium chloride salt serving as an electrolyte, heated to 950°C. At this temperature the regolith remains solid.

    Passing a current through it causes the oxygen to be extracted from the regolith and migrate across the salt to be collected at an anode. It took 50 hours in all to extract 96% of the total oxygen, but 75% can be extracted in just the first 15 hours.

    Beth adds: “This work is based on the FCC process – from the initials of its Cambridge-based inventors – which has been scaled up by a UK company called Metalysis for commercial metal and alloy production.”

    “We are working with Metalysis and ESA to translate this industrial process to the lunar context, and the results so far are very promising,” notes Mark Symes, Beth’s PhD supervisor at the University of Glasgow.

    James Carpenter, ESA’s lunar strategy officer comments: “This process would give lunar settlers access to oxygen for fuel and life support, as well as a wide range of metal alloys for in-situ manufacturing – the exact feedstock available would depend on where on the Moon they land.”

    “It could also be used to extract useful materials on Mars as well, where pre-processing the feedstock would give pure metals and alloy products,” adds ESA materials engineer Advenit Makaya.

    This published research can be found at Planetary and Space Science.

    This week is Space Resources week, including a two-day workshop on space resource utilisation, hosted jointly by ESA and the Luxembourg Space Agency, with researchers from across Europe discussing the future use of lunar, martian and asteroid resources.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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