NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and top officials provided an update on the Artemis program on Tuesday, delivering the not unexpected news that the space agency will not meet its deadline of landing a man and the first woman of color at the south pole of the moon in 2024. Instead, the landing will be delayed until at least 2025.
Moon dust isn’t like the stuff that collects on a bookshelf or on tables – it’s ubiquitous and abrasive, and it clings to everything. It’s so bad that it even broke the vacuum NASA designed to clean the Moon dust off Apollo spacesuits.
With NASA’s return to the Moon and its orbit, it will need to manage the dust, which is dangerous for people too. The first step is knowing how much is around at any given time. Efforts to do just that are already paying off on Earth, in the fight against air pollution.
REDDING, UK (University of Redding PR) — Planned missions to return humans to the Moon need to hurry up to avoid hitting one of the busiest periods for extreme space weather, according to scientists conducting the most in-depth ever look at solar storm timing.
Scientists at the University of Reading studied 150 years of space weather data to investigate patterns in the timing of the most extreme events, which can be extremely dangerous to astronauts and satellites, and even disrupt power grids if they arrive at Earth.
Chang’e-5’s ascender has lifted off from the moon on its way to an rendezvous with an orbital vehicle that will transport its lunar soil samples back to Earth.
Chinese media are reporting the ascender successfully reached orbit after lifting off from the Ocean of Storms. It is expected to rendezvous and dock with the orbiter-return vehicle on Saturday.
The ascender will transfer its samples to the return vehicle, which is scheduled to land under parachute in China’s Inner Mongolia on Dec. 16.
Chang’e-5’s lander collected soil from the surface using a drill and a robotic arm with a scoop. The goal was to collect at least 2 kg (4.4 lb) of soil.
If successful, China will become only the third nation to return samples from the moon after the United States and the Soviet Union.
Chang’e-5’s liftoff was the first from the lunar surface since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. And it was the first vehicle to enter lunar orbit after lifting off from the surface since the U.S. Apollo 17 manned mission in December 1972.
SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — Over the course of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, the star goes through a period of increased and decreased activity. When this activity ramps up, sometimes phenomena such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), where massive amounts of radiation and solar particles erupt out from the Sun’s surface, can wreak havoc if our planet happens to be in the way of the blast.
Lunar dust feels like fine snow, is strangely abrasive, and smells like burnt gun powder when exposed to oxygen.
It was a minor annoyance during the Apollo missions, which lasted a maximum of three days. Now that NASA is planning to send astronauts back to the moon to stay in the Artemis program, the space agency is looking for ways to control lunar dust so it doesn’t clog up spacesuits, spacecraft and habitats.
HOUSTON (ESA PR) — 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 analysed, preparations are now being made to open the second later this year.
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Moon dust is a formidable adversary – the grains are as fine as powder and as sharp as tiny shards of glass. During the Apollo 17 mission to the Moon, the astronauts lamented how the dust found its way into everything, coating their spacesuits and jamming the shoulder joints, getting inside their lunar habitat and even causing symptoms of a temporary “lunar dust hay fever” in astronaut Harrison Schmitt. Those symptoms fortunately went away quickly – but the problem of Moon dust remains for future missions.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA scientists opened an untouched rock and soil sample from the Moon returned to Earth on Apollo 17, marking the first time in more than 40 years a pristine sample of rock and regolith from the Apollo era has been opened. It sets the stage for scientists to practice techniques to study future samples collected on Artemis missions.
As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of manned Apollo flights leading to the first moon landing in July 1969, the number of astronauts from the program is slowly dwindling away.
Of the 29 men who flew in the Apollo lunar program, 15 are still alive while 14 others have passed away. When the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs are included, there are 21 Apollo-era astronauts still with us while 17 have died.
Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson was one of three people honored for contributions to further space exploration during the Apollo Celebration Gala held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Saturday.
NASA would launch the first element of a human-tended Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway in 2022 under a proposed exploration plan that would make use of commercial and international partnerships.
A power and propulsion module would be followed soon afterward by habitation, airlock, and logistics modules. The gateway would serve as a base for astronauts to explore the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 lifted off from the surface in 1972.
I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.
I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….
So, have at it! Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!
NASA astronaut Richard “Dick” Gordon, who died on Monday at the age of 88, was the third Apollo-era astronaut to pass away this year and the second who was involved in a lunar mission.
Gordon was command module pilot for Apollo 12, which saw Pete Conrad and Alan Bean walk on the moon in November 1969. Gordon stayed in orbit aboard aboard the command service module Yankee Clipper while his colleagues explored the lunar surface. It was the second and final spaceflight for Gordon, who flew aboard Gemini 10 with Conrad three years earlier.
NASA Television will provide the pool coverage of the funeral service for NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy Capt. Eugene A. Cernan at 3:30 p.m. EST (2:30 p.m. CST) on Tuesday, Jan. 24, live from St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.
Media cameras will not be permitted in the church, however, there will be a designated media area outside. Please note, there will be no interviews with special guests.
Cernan left his mark on the history of exploration by flying three times in space, twice to the moon. He also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last human to leave his footprints on the lunar surface.
For more information about Cernan’s life and legacy, visit: