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Artemis II Crew Trains for Emergency Scenarios Ahead of Moon Mission


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Two astronauts in orange spacesuits and helmets sit horizontal with their feet raised in a mockup of the Orion spacecraft. The feet of two other astronauts are above them on the left. All are assisted by a man in a beige hat.
Credit: NASA/James Blair

The four Artemis II astronauts practiced procedures to exit the Orion spacecraft in an emergency during training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on Dec. 15. NASA astronaut Christina Koch (foreground) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen were assisted by Bill Owens, Artemis II spacesuit technician. The training included exiting both the side and top hatches of the spacecraft to ensure the crew will be ready for potential emergency scenarios upon splashdown in the Pacific Ocean that would require them to leave the capsule before the recovery team arrives. The Artemis II mission will send the crew on an approximately 10-day flight test around the Moon. Under Artemis, NASA will return humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and scientific discovery.

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      Here for your reference is a day-by-day listing of celestial events between now and the full Moon after next. The times and angles are based on the location of NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, and some of these details may differ for where you are (I use parentheses to indicate times specific to the DC area).
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      Friday evening, July 5, 2024, at 6:57 PM EDT, will be the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from the Earth. The day of or the day after the New Moon marks the start of the new month for most lunisolar calendars. Saturday, July 6 will be the start of the sixth month of the Chinese year of the Dragon. Sundown on July 6 will mark the start of Tammuz in the Hebrew calendar. In the Islamic calendar the months traditionally start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon. Many Muslim communities now follow the Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia, which uses astronomical calculations to start months in a more predictable way. Using this calendar, sundown on Saturday, July 6, will probably mark Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year and the beginning of the month of Muharram, although Muharram is one of four months for which the calendar dates may be adjusted by the religious authorities of Saudi Arabia after actual sightings of the lunar crescent. Al-Hijra is a public holiday in many Muslim countries. Customs vary, but most include observing the day quietly and practicing gratitude. Muharram is one of the four sacred months during which warfare is forbidden.
      Sunday evening, July 7, 2024, the planet Mercury will appear 3 degrees below the thin, waxing crescent Moon, with the Beehive cluster (visible with binoculars) 1.5 degrees to the lower right of Mercury. As evening twilight ends (at 9:47 PM EDT) the Moon will be 4 degrees above the west-northwestern horizon, with Mercury a little more than 1 degree and the Beehive cluster a little less than 1 degree above the horizon. The Beehive cluster will set first 7 minutes later (at 9:54 PM), followed by Mercury 4 minutes after that (at 9:58 PM) and the Moon 19 minutes after Mercury set (at 10:17 PM).
      Friday morning, July 12, 2024, at 4:12 AM EDT (when we can’t see it), the Moon will be at apogee, its farthest from the Earth for this orbit.
      Saturday evening, July 13, 2024, the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 6:49 PM EDT.
      Saturday evening, July 13, 2024, will be when the planet Mercury will reach its highest (2 degrees) above the west-northwestern horizon as evening twilight ends (at 9:43 PM EDT).
      Saturday night, July 13, 2024, the bright star Spica will appear near the half-full Moon, so near that for part of the night the Moon will block Spica from view for much of North America (see http://lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/0714zc1925.htm for a map and information on the locations that will see this occultation). For the location of NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC (angles and times will be different for other locations), as evening twilight ends (at 9:43 PM EDT), Spica will be 1 degree to the left of the Moon. If you are in a location that will see this occultation, you should be able to see Spica vanish behind the dark half of the Moon (at 11:26 PM for the DC area). For the Washington, DC area the Moon will set (at 12:32 AM) before Spica reemerges. For locations farther west, the brightness of the lit half of the Moon will make it hard to see when Spica emerges.
      Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, July 17 to 18, 2024, the bright star Antares will appear near the waxing gibbous Moon. As evening twilight ends (at 9:40 PM EDT) Antares will be 3 degrees to the upper right of the Moon. The Moon will reach its highest in the sky 27 minutes later (at 10:07 PM). As Antares sets (at 2:21 AM) it will be 5 degrees to the lower right of the Moon. For much of the southern part of Africa the Moon will pass in front of Antares earlier on Wednesday. See http://lunar-occultations.com/iota/bstar/0717zc2366.htm for a map and information on the locations that will see this occultation. The full Moon after next will be Sunday morning, July 21, 2024, at 6:17 AM EDT. This will be late Saturday night for the International Date Line West and the American Samoa and Midway time zones and early Monday morning for Line Islands Time. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Friday evening through Monday morning, making this a full Moon weekend.
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