Space Exploration

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

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moon over water 

Water is a precious resource and a relatively plentiful lunar presence could prove important to future astronaut and robotic missions seeking to extract and utilize water.The moon lacks the bodies of liquid water that are a hallmark of Earth but scientists said on Monday lunar water is more widespread than previously known, with water molecules trapped within mineral grains on the surface and more water perhaps hidden in ice patches residing in permanent shadows. While research 11 years ago indicated water was relatively widespread in small amounts on the moon, a team of scientists is now reporting the first unambiguous detection of water molecules on the lunar surface. At the same time, another team is reporting that the moon possesses roughly 15,000 square miles (40,000 square kilometers) of permanent shadows that potentially could harbor hidden pockets of water in the form of ice.

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 Moon Landing CUP

NASA has released its plan to return to the moon. In an accompanying live stream presentation, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine put to bed a story that the space agency was contemplating sending the first woman and the next man to land on the moon to one of the Apollo landing sites. The idea got a lot of negative reactions on social media. Bridenstine stated that the next moon landing will go to the lunar South Pole, full stop. The plan did not have too many surprises. Artemis 1 will be an unpiloted jaunt around the moon taking place sometime in 2021. Artemis 2 will take the first crew around the moon in 2023. Then, in 2024, NASA will mount the first moon landing since 1972, something that will be a world historic event and more than a bit of good news for a planet that has had a dearth of such in recent years.

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Venus

An international team of astronomers has detected a rare chemical in the atmosphere of Venus that could be produced by living organisms, according to a study published Monday. The discovery instantly puts the brightest object in the night sky back into the conversation about where to search for extraterrestrial life. The researchers made clear that this is not a direct detection of life on Venus. But the astronomical observations confirmed the presence of the chemical phosphine in the atmosphere. The chemical, produced on Earth by bacteria, is considered a potential “biosignature” of life.

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 Launch XSpace

A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:33 p.m. EDT May 27, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, for an extended stay at the space station for the Demo-2 mission. The specific duration of the mission is to be determined. As the final flight test for SpaceX, this mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities. This also will be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit.

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Screen Shot 2019 07 14 at 12.47.46 PM 

In a culture steeped in high technology, from wearable computers to the internet of things and rockets that fly themselves back to pinpoint touchdowns, the Apollo 11 moon landing and Neil Armstrong's "giant leap for mankind" are slowly fading from memory, a forever remarkable but increasingly distant bit of history. After all, for anyone born after July 20, 1969, the day Armstrong set foot on the surface of the moon, there has never been a time when humanity was bound to Earth alone. For many, the stories of Apollo 11, five subsequent moon landings and the near disaster of Apollo 13 are remembered from history class, not from personal experience.