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The Polaris lunar water prospecting robot prototyple

Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spin-off company of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has debuted its full-size flight prototype of its Polaris lunar water-prospecting robot. Polaris is specially designed to work in the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s poles. Scheduled to be sent to the Moon using a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the solar-powered rover is a contender in the US$20 million Google Lunar X Prize and is tasked with seeking ice deposits that could be used by future colonists.  Read More

TALISE is a proposed aquatic probe intended to sail across a lake on Saturn's largest moon...

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, and it’s said to be one of the most Earth-like celestial bodies in the Solar System. It has a thick atmosphere, and is covered with a network of seas, lakes and rivers – albeit ones made up of liquid hydrocarbons instead of water. Now, a team of scientists are proposing sending a boat-like probe to Titan, that would travel across its largest lake.  Read More

Lobate scarps (a type of cliff) on the moon can be viewed in 3D thanks to NASA's LRO (Phot...

It’s time to pull out the old red/cyan 3D glasses for these anaglyphs created with high-resolution stereo images beamed back from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Having revealed the fate of the Apollo lunar flags earlier this year, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) is now enabling the creation of anaglyphs to bring the third dimension to craters, volcanic flows, lava tubes and tectonic features on the lunar surface.  Read More

Artist's impression of the lunar elevator's lunar base and climber car (Image: LiftPort)

When the late Neil Armstrong and the crew of Apollo 11 went to the Moon, they did so sitting atop a rocket the size of a skyscraper that blasted out jets of smoke and flame as it hurtled skyward. For over half a century, that is how all astronauts have gone into space. It’s all very dramatic, but it’s also expensive. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier to take the elevator? That’s the question that Michael Laine, CEO of LiftPort in Seattle, Washington, hopes to answer with the development of a transportation system that swaps space-rockets for space-ribbons.  Read More

The International Lunar Observatory Association is to send a tested telescope on board Moo...

The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) is being backed by Google Lunar X Prize contestant Moon Express in placing a small telescope on the Moon's surface to test and troubleshoot operating protocols for a fully loaded remote telescope. Last week, the ILO-X, the first ILOA telescope that will be sent to the Moon, was remotely tested by ILOA and Moon Express on the summit of Mauna Kea, and passed with flying colors. Later ILOA/Moon Express missions will include landing considerably larger telescopes at strategic locations on the lunar surface.  Read More

Sinus Iridum as seen from NASA's Clementine probe, where China plans to land a lunar rover...

The Chinese news agency Xinhua announced on July 31 that China will be sending its first unmanned lander to the Moon in the second half of 2013. Chang’e-3 will be the third lunar probe launched by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the first attempt at a landing. The lander/rover combination will launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China’s Sichuan province as part of China’s continuing Lunar Exploration program.  Read More

Buzz Aldrin at Tranquility Base (Photo: NASA)

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the US flag on the Moon. The image of Aldrin standing with the flag is one of the indelible images of that great day. But over the years, one question has vexed space buffs – what happened to the flag? In his book Return to Earth, Aldrin says that when the Lunar Module’s Ascent stage lifted off from Tranquility Base, he saw the flag topple over. Since no one could confirm what happened, it remained a mystery ... at least, until now. On July 27, NASA announced that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) had solved the puzzle of the fate of the Apollo lunar flags.  Read More

The F-1 engine sent the Apollo Moon missions into space (Photo: NASA)

A legendary Space Age rocket engine that sent mankind to the Moon in 1969 may be brought back to power humanity’s return to that celestial body. Under a NASA request, Dynetics Inc of Huntsville, Alabama has submitted a proposal apparently studying the feasibility of reviving the F-1 rocket engine technology. Previously used to power the first stage of the Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo missions to the Moon, it could now find use in NASA’s planned Space Launch System (SLS) due to enter service in 2017.  Read More

Image, taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, showing five moons orbiting the distant, ic...

Pluto may no longer be classified as a planet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still getting its fair share of attention. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is currently making its way to the icy dwarf planet to study it and its moons. To search for potential hazards to the spacecraft and help plan a safer trajectory before its scheduled arrival in 2015, a team of astronomers has trained the eye of the Hubble Space Telescope on the system and discovered a fifth, previously unknown moon orbiting the planet.  Read More

Artist's depiction of the twin GRAIL spacecraft that have completed their primary mission ...

After entering orbit around the Moon at the start of the year, NASA’s twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) probes, Ebb and Flow, have completed their primary mission to study the Moon’s interior structure ahead of schedule. Operating around the clock since March 8, NASA says the spacecraft have provided unprecedented detail about the interior structure and evolution of the Moon and the data they have gathered will provide insights into how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed.  Read More

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