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Highlights From the First 13 Days of NASA's Artemis I Moon Mission


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    • By NASA
      3 min read
      Artemis, Architecture, and Lunar Science: SMD and ESDMD Associate Administrators visits Tokyo
      June 18, 2024
      At NASA we always say that exploration enables science, and science enables exploration. During a recent, quick trip to Tokyo, Japan with our Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate (ESDMD), Cathy Koerner, I had an opportunity to share this message with our partners at the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
      We explore for several reasons but primarily to benefit humanity. How exactly does exploration benefit humanity? By accepting audacious challenges like retuning to the Moon and venturing on to Mars, we inspire and motivate current and future generations of scientists, engineers, problem solvers, and communicators to contribute to our mission and other national priorities. By conducting scientific investigations in deep space, on the Moon, and on Mars, we enhance our understanding of the universe and our place in it. And finally, what we achieve when we explore, how it’s accomplished, and who participates benefits international partnerships and global cooperation that are essential for enhancing the quality of life for all.
      NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Dr. Nicky Fox, and Associate Administrator for the Exploration systems Development Mission Directorate, Cathy Koerner, meet with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Tokyo, Japan on June 11, 2024. Credits: NASA In addition to bi-lateral meetings with our JAXA partners, Cathy and I co-presented at the International Space Exploration Symposium where I shared how every NASA Science division has a stake in Artemis. Cathy provided updates on the Orion spacecraft, SLS rocket, Gateway, human landing systems, and advanced spacesuits, and I talked about all of the incredible science we will conduct along the way. The Artemis campaign is a series of increasingly complex missions that provide ever-growing capabilities for scientific exploration of the Moon. From geology to solar, biological, and fundamental physics phenomena, exploration teaches about the earliest solar system environment: whether and how the bombardments of nascent worlds influenced the emergence of life, how the Earth and Moon formed and evolved, and how volatiles (like water) and other potential resources were distributed and transported throughout the solar system.
      Together with our partners like JAXA, NASA is working towards establishing infrastructure for long-term exploration in lunar orbit and on the surface. For example, on Artemis III, JAXA will provide the Lunar Dielectric Analyzer instrument, which once installed near the lunar South Pole, will help collect valuable scientific data about the lunar environment, it’s interior, and how to sustain a long-duration human presence on the Moon. In April, the U.S. and Japan were proud to make a historic announcement for cooperation on the Moon. Japan will design, develop, and operate a pressurized rover for crewed and uncrewed exploration on the Moon. NASA will launch and deliver the rover, and provide two opportunities for Japanese astronauts to travel to the lunar surface. This historic agreement was highlighted by President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida and is an example of the strong relationship between the United States and Japan. The enclosed and pressurized rover will be able to accommodate two astronauts on the lunar surface for 30 days, and will have a lifespan of about 10 years, enabling it to be used for multiple missions. It will enable longer-duration expeditions, so that astronauts can conduct more moonwalks and perform more science in geographically diverse areas near the lunar South Pole.
      Artemis is different than anything humanity has ever done before. The Artemis campaign will bring the world along for this historic journey, forever changing humanity’s perspective of our place in the universe. This is the start of a lunar ecosystem, where we’ll do more science than we can dream of, together.
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    • By NASA
      The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) launched together from Cape Canaveral Air Force, now Space Force, Station on June 18, 2009, atop an Atlas V launch vehicle. The primary mission of the LRO, managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, involved imaging the entire Moon’s surface to create a 3-D map with ~50-centimeter resolution to aid in the planning of future robotic and crewed missions. In addition, LRO would map the polar regions and search for the presence of water ice. Although its primary mission intended to last only one year, it continues to operate after 15 years in lunar orbit. The LCROSS, managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, planned to further investigate the presence of water ice in permanently shaded areas of the Moon’s polar regions. The two components of LCROSS, the Centaur upper stage of the launch vehicle and the Shepherding Satellite, planned to deliberately crash into the Moon. Instruments on Earth and aboard LRO and the LCROSS Shepherding Satellite would observe the resulting plumes and analyze them for the presence of water.

      Left: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), top, silver, and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), bottom, gold, spacecraft during placement inside the launch shroud. Right: Launch of LRO and LCROSS on an Atlas V rocket.
      The LRO spacecraft carries seven scientific instruments:
      the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) to characterize the lunar radiation environment; the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment (DLRE) to identify areas cold enough to trap ice; the Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LMAP) to search for ice in the lunar polar regions; the Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) to create a map of hydrogen distribution and to determine the neutron component of the lunar radiation environment; the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) to measure slopes and roughness of potential landing sites; the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) consisting of two-narrow angle and one wide-angle camera to take high-resolution images of the lunar surface; and the Mini Radio Frequency (Mini-RF) experiment, an advanced radar system to image the polar regions and search for water ice.
      Left: Illustration of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and its scientific instruments. Right: Illustration of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and its scientific instruments on panel at left.
      The LCROSS Shepherding Satellite carried nine instruments – five cameras (one visible, two near-infrared, and two mid-infrared); three spectrometers (one visible and two near-infrared); and a photometer. They monitored the plume sent up by the impact of the Centaur upper stage.

      Left: Illustration of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in lunar orbit. Right: Illustration of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite’s Shepherding Satellite at left and Centaur upper stage at right prior to lunar impact.
      On June 23, 2009, after a four-and-a-half-day journey from Earth, LRO entered an elliptical polar orbit around the Moon. Over the next four days, four engine burns refined the spacecraft’s orbit and engineers on the ground began commissioning its instruments. The LROC returned its first image of the Moon on June 30 of an area near the Mare Nubium. On Sept. 15, 2009, LRO began its primary one-year mission to map the lunar surface from its science orbit 31 miles above the Moon.  
      On Oct. 9, 2009, first the Centaur upper stage followed five minutes later by the LCROSS Shepherding Satellite crashed into the Moon’s Cabeus Crater near the lunar south pole. Although the impacts created smaller plumes than anticipated, instruments detected signs of water in the ejected debris.
      In September 2010, LRO completed its primary mapping mission and began an extended science mission around the Moon. On Dec. 17, NASA released the most detailed topographic map covering more than 98 percent of the Moon’s surface based on data from LRO’s LOLA instrument. The map continues to be updated as new data are received from the spacecraft. On March 15, 2011, LRO had made available more than 192 terabytes of data from its primary mission to the NASA Planetary Data System, or PDS, to make the information available to researchers, students, media, and the general public. LRO  continues to deliver data to the PDS, having generated the largest volume of data from a NASA planetary science mission ever.

      Left: First high-resolution image of the Moon taken by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Middle: Mosaic of LRO images of the Moon’s near side. Right: Mosaic of LRO images of the Moon’s far side.

      Left: Mosaic of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) images of the lunar north pole. Right: Mosaic of LRO images of the lunar south pole.
      The LCROSS data showed that the lunar soil within shadowy craters is rich in useful materials, such as hydrogen gas, ammonia, and methane, which could be used to produce fuel for space missions. Large amounts of light metals, such as sodium, mercury, and silver, were discovered. The data revealed that there is perhaps as much as hundreds of millions of tons of frozen water on the Moon, enough to make it an effective oasis for future explorers.
      Thanks to its unique vantage point in a low altitude lunar orbit, LRO’s camera has taken remarkably detailed images of all six Apollo landing sites. The detail is such that not only can the Lunar Module (LM) descent stages be clearly identified, but disturbances of the lunar soil by the astronauts’ boots, the shadows of the American flag are visible at five of the landing sites, and the Lunar Rovers from the last three missions are even visible. The scientific instruments, and in at least three of the landing sites, the U.S. flag left by the astronauts can be discerned. The flag at the Apollo 11 site cannot be seen because it most likely was blown over by the exhaust of the LM’s ascent stage engine when the astronauts lifted off. In addition to the Apollo landing sites, LRO has also imaged crash and soft-landing sites of other American, Soviet, Chinese, Indian, and Israeli spacecraft, including craters left by the deliberate impacts of Apollo S-IVB upper stages. It also imaged a Korean satellite in lunar orbit as the two flew within a few miles of each other at high speed. LRO also turned its camera Earthward to catch stunning Earthrise views, one image with Mars in the background, and the Moon’s shadow on the Earth during the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

      Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of the Apollo 11, left, 12, and 14 landing sites.

      Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images of the Apollo 15, left, 16, and 17 landing sites.

      Left: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) image of Luna 17 that landed on the Moon on Nov. 17, 1970, and the tracks of the Lunokhod 1 rover that it deployed. Middle: LRO image of the Chang’e 4 lander and Yutu 2 rover that landed on the Moon’s far side on Jan. 3, 2019. Right: LRO image of the Chandrayaan 3 lander taken four days after it landed on the Moon on Aug. 23, 2023.

      Left: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) image of Odysseus that landed on the Moon on Feb. 22, 2024. Middle: LRO image taken on March 5, 2024, of the Danuri lunar orbiting satellite as the two passed within 3 miles of each other at a relative velocity of 7,200 miles per hour. Right: LRO image of the Chang’e 6 lander on the Moon’s farside, taken on June 7, 2024.

      Left: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) image of Earthrise over Compton Crater taken Oct. 12, 2015. Middle: LRO image of Earth and Mars taken Oct. 2, 2014. Right: LRO image of the total solar eclipse taken on April 8, 2024.
      The LRO mission continues with the spacecraft returning images and data from its instruments. LRO has enough fuel on board to operate until 2027. The spacecraft can support new robotic lunar activities and the knowledge from the mission will help aid in the return of humans to the lunar surface. 
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA/Brandon Torres NASA astronaut Nicole Mann waves as she is introduced before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the San Francisco Giants versus Los Angeles Angels game at Oracle Park in San Francisco on June 14, 2024. Mann was honored for her accomplishments at the Giants’ Native American Heritage Night. She is the first Indigenous woman from NASA to go to space, having served as commander of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission, which launched in 2022.  
      View the full article
    • By USH
      Over the years, much has been published about the strange things that happen on the dark side of the moon. 

      The far side of the moon has been a mystery since the dawn of the space age. But is it just a barren, crater-filled wasteland? 
      Shocking claims from astronauts, whistleblowers, and classified documents suggest there's more to the story. Eerie sounds, inexplicable sightings, and covert missions point to something astounding hidden from public view. 
      Before delving into the evidence, which ranges from Apollo-era transcripts to insights from modern military insiders, it's worth noting an intriguing paper recently released by Harvard. Titled "The Cryptoterrestrial Hypothesis. This paper proposes among other themes that UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) might be the result of activities by intelligent beings hidden here on Earth eventually underground or in nearby areas such as the moon. (Notion: The dark of the side of the moon could be an excellent place to hide.) 
      But the Harvard paper has suddenly disappeared... though we saved you a copy: https://bit.ly/4b1xk11 
      The implications are staggering, hinting at a secret history beyond our world.
        View the full article
    • By NASA
      Several hundred new faces walked through the gates of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the first time on June 3. Who is this small army of motivated space-enthusiasts? It’s Goddard’s 2024 summer intern cohort.
      Across Goddard’s campuses, more than 300 on-site and virtual interns spend the 10-week program contributing across all manners of disciplines, science, engineering, finance, communications, and many more. From helping engineers who will send new space telescopes into orbit, to communicating NASA’s scientific discoveries to the world, this cohort of interns hopes to bring their new ideas and perspectives to Goddard this summer.
      About 200 interns attended summer orientation at Goddard’s Greenbelt, Maryland, campus of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, on June 3, 2024. This was the first in-person summer orientation since 2019.Credit: NASA/Jimmy Acevedo The Artemis Generation Takes Flight
      This group of interns is part of the Artemis Generation: they come to NASA near the culmination of the campaign that will return humanity to the Moon for the first time in more than 50 years. Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface.
      “I’m just excited to contribute to Artemis,” said Kate Oberlander, who just graduated from UCLA in aerospace engineering. “We’ll be helping connect communications between the Moon and Earth for the Artemis campaign, and that is so monumental. That’s exciting to be a part of.”
      In addition to work on their projects, interns also have networking opportunities where they can meet current NASA employees and learn about careers in aerospace.
      “I’ve been really enjoying getting to know my fellow interns, and also getting that professional development alongside technical skills,” said Oberlander, who plans on returning to UCLA to earn her master’s degree and learn more about optics, electromagnetics, and space exploration. She said her internship this summer will bring all her favorite subjects together.
      Down to Earth: Interns Work Across Fields
      Interns at Goddard take on a diverse set of projects across many disciplines. “It’s a lot of learning — but I love learning. I’m like a sponge,” said Addie Colwell, an environmental science student at the University of Vermont.
      Colwell’s internship focuses on stormwater management at Goddard. “We have to renovate the embankment of the stormwater pond,” Colwell said. “I’m assessing how that’s going to impact the wildlife there. It’s a lot of species identification and research.”
      Emma Stefanacci, a science communication master’s student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will be working on the astrophysics social media team.
      “I’m excited to see what social media looks like, as I haven’t been able to play in that realm of communications before,” said Stefanacci. She will help develop a campaign for the launch anniversary of XRISM, a telescope collaboration between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
      This summer, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore also hosts a diverse intern cohort, some of whom are shown here in the Range Control Center. Goddard manages Wallops on behalf of NASA.Credit: NASA/Pat Benner Working on the Next Generation of Space Discovery
      Kevin Mora is a student at Arizona State University studying computer science. Mora is working on several projects this summer, one of them focusing on pipeline coding in Python to help engineers working on the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. “It’s literally like a pipeline — just moving data from here to there,” Mora said. “It helps the engineers that are building Roman get stuff done faster.”
      The Roman Space Telescope is the next in line to carry on the Hubble and Webb legacy. Roman will have a much wider field of view than the space telescopes preceding it, giving scientists a bigger picture of the universe, and hopefully telling us more about dark matter and dark energy. Many interns are working on this space telescope, which is expected to launch by 2027.
      Alongside new faces in this year’s program, some interns are returning to NASA for repeat sessions. Cord Mazzetti, a recent electrical engineering graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, will be continuing work on quantum clock synchronization that he began researching at Goddard last summer.
      “It’s nice to be back here at NASA and to be able to dive into my work even faster,” said Mazzetti.
      In-person Orientation Returns to Campus
      The interns’ orientation was the first to be held in-person since before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Laura Schmidt, an internships specialist in NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement.
      “It was thrilling to welcome our incredible group of interns and host our first onsite summer orientation in five years,” Schmidt said. “The energy was palpable as we welcomed nearly 200 interns onsite at Goddard, and I have no doubt that the stage is set for a fantastic summer ahead.”
      By Avery Truman and Matthew Kaufman
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
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      Last Updated Jun 17, 2024 EditorKaty MersmannContactRob Garnerrob.garner@nasa.govLocationGoddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
      Goddard Space Flight Center Internships People of Goddard View the full article
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