Tag: Moon

NASA mission to take Australian rover to the Moon by 2026

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Photo- NASA

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 13 October 2021: An Australian rover is likely to be on a NASA mission to the Moon by 2026. Leading Australian businesses and researchers will come together to develop the rover, backed by $50 million in funding from the Trailblazer program in the Australian Government’s Moon to Mars initiative.

The semi-autonomous rover will collect lunar soil that contains oxides, and using separate equipment, NASA will aim to extract oxygen from the soil. This is a key step towards establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon and supporting future missions to Mars.

In a media statement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s mission to the Moon would contribute to growing our economy in our COVID-19 recovery, and create more jobs for Australians.

“This is an incredible opportunity for Australia to succeed in the global space sector, and is central to our Government’s vision to secure more jobs and a larger share of the growing space economy,” the Prime Minister said.

“By 2030, we want to triple the size of our space sector – adding $12 billion to our economy and creating up to 20,000 new, high-skilled jobs – providing more opportunities for Australians and industries.

“Our Government has invested more than $700 million in the civil space sector since July 2018, supporting core industries including manufacturing, robotics, engineering, mining and resources.

“This mission to the Moon is just one exciting way that we can create opportunity and jobs for the future, and our Government will ensure Australians reap the benefits.”

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said the milestone agreement would usher in a new era for the Australian space sector.

“With our expertise in robotics technology, NASA wants to partner with us on this project to the Moon, creating our own lunar history,” Minister Price said.

“As well as putting Australia front and centre for scientific discoveries, our $50 million in support gives Australian businesses and researchers the opportunity to contribute to NASA’s mission to the Moon and beyond.

“It will build the Australian space sector’s capability and capacity and showcase Australia’s strengths to the world, as well as inspire a whole new generation of young people to enter careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.”

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Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said the mission would demonstrate Australian industry’s world leading skills and experience in remote operations, drawing from our expertise in the resources and mining sector.

“Australia is at the cutting-edge of robotics technology and systems for remote operations, which are going to be central to setting up a sustainable presence on the Moon and eventually supporting human exploration of Mars,” Mr. Palermo said.

“This agreement will leverage our expertise in remote operations to grow our space sector here at home, while developments that come from preparing for space will make sure our resources sector keeps powering ahead too.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said: “This agreement will serve to strengthen the long-time relationship between the United States and Australia in areas related to space exploration – a relationship that goes back more than half a century to the days of the Apollo program.

“By working together with the Australian Space Agency and our partners around the world, NASA will uncover more discoveries and accomplish more research through the Artemis program.”

Under the agreement, NASA will fly the rover to the Moon as early as 2026, provided it meets a range of conditions during its development. The Trailblazer program is expected to open later this year, with applications to be submitted in early 2022. For more information, visit space.gov.au.

Six space missions to look forward to in 2021

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By Ian Whittaker* & Gareth Dorrian**

Space exploration achieved several notable firsts in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including commercial human spaceflight and returning samples of an asteroid to Earth.

The coming year is shaping up to be just as interesting. Here are some of the missions to keep an eye out for.

Artemis 1

Artemis 1 is the first flight of the Nasa-led, international Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. This will consist of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft which will be sent on a three-week flight around the Moon. IT will reach a maximum distance from Earth of 450,000km – the farthest into space that any spacecraft that can transport humans will have ever flown.

Artemis 1 will be launched into Earth orbit on the first Nasa Space Launch System, which will be the most powerful rocket in operation. From Earth orbit, the Orion will be propelled onto a different path towards the Moon by the rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage. The Orion capsule will then travel to the Moon under the power provided by a service module supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The mission will provide engineers back on Earth with a chance to evaluate how the spacecraft performs in deep space and serve as a prelude to later crewed lunar missions. The launch of Artemis 1 is currently scheduled for late in 2021.

Mars missions

In February, Mars will receive a flotilla of terrestrial robotic guests from several countries. The United Arab Emirates’ Al Amal (Hope) spacecraft is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. It is scheduled to arrive in Mars orbit on February 9, where it will spend two years monitoring the Martian weather and disappearing atmosphere.

Arriving within a couple of weeks after Al Amal will be the China National Space Administration’s Tianwen-1, consisting of an orbiter and a surface rover. The spacecraft will enter Martian orbit for several months before deploying the rover to the surface. If it succeeds, China will become the third country to land anything on Mars. The mission has several objectives including mapping the mineral composition of the surface and searching for sub-surface water deposits.

Nasa’s Perseverance rover will land at Jezero Crater on February 18 and search for any signs of ancient life which may have been preserved in the clay deposits there. Critically, it will also store a cache of Martian surface samples on board as the first part in a highly ambitious international program to return samples of Mars to Earth.

Chandrayaan-3

In March 2021, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch its third lunar mission: Chandrayaan-3. Chandrayaan-1 launched in 2008 and was one of the first major missions in the Indian space programme. Comprising an orbiter and a surface penetrator probe, the mission was one of the first to confirm evidence of lunar water.

Unfortunately, contact with the satellite was lost less than a year later. Sadly, there was a similar mishap with its successor, Chandrayaan-2, which consisted of an orbiter, a lander (Vikram) and a lunar rover (Pragyan).

Chandrayaan-3 was announced a few months later. It will consist of only a lander and rover, as the previous mission’s orbiter is still functioning and providing data.

If all goes well the Chandrayaan-3 rover will touch down in the lunar south pole’s Aitken basin. It’s of particular interest as it is thought to host numerous deposits of subsurface water ice – a vital component for any future sustainable lunar habitation.

James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, but has had a rocky path to being launched. Initially planned for a 2007 launch, the Webb telescope is almost 14 years late and has cost roughly US$10 billion (£7.4 billion) after apparent underestimates and overruns similar to those experienced by Hubble.

Whereas Hubble has provided some amazing views of the universe in visible and ultraviolet region of light, Webb is planning to focus observations in the infrared wavelength band. The reason for this is that when observing really distant objects there will probably be gas clouds in the way.

These gas clouds block really small wavelengths of light, such as X-rays and ultra violet light, while longer wavelengths like infra-red, microwave and radio can get through more easily. So by observing in these longer wavelengths we should see more of the universe.

Webb also has a much bigger mirror of 6.5-metre diameter compared to Hubble’s 2.4-metre diameter mirror – essential for improving image resolution and seeing finer detail.

The primary mission of Webb is look at light from galaxies at the edge of the universe which can tell us about how the first stars, galaxies and planetary systems formed. Potentially this could include some information about the origin of life as well, as Webb is planning on imaging exoplanet atmospheres in high detail, searching for the building blocks of life. Do they exist on other planets, and if so, how did they get there?

We are also likely to be treated to some stunning images similar to those produced by Hubble. Webb is currently scheduled to launch on an Ariane 5 rocket on October 31.

* Senior Lecturer in Physics, Nottingham Trent University
** Post Doctoral Research Fellow in Space Science, University of Birmingham

Source- theconversation.com. (January 1, 2021)

- Under Creative Commons Licence.

SCIENCE WEEK: Time and tide – how the Moon and other factors affect our oceans

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 15 August: We all know that tides are influenced by the Moon, but how does that connection work and how can we predict the tides more than a year in advance?

They are just two of many questions the Bureau of Meteorology is answering this National Science Week (10-18 August), with the theme: Destination Moon: more missions, more science.

The Bureau provides the tide forecasts which are an essential tool for everyone from recreational fishers to the operators of giant container ships.

And while we rely on weather forecasts for up to a week in advance, many take for granted that tide tables can be relied on for well over a year.

Bureau of Meteorology Ocean Analyst Jessica Sweeney says the tide in any place is affected by the moon and several other factors.

“Gravitational forces of the earth, moon and sun drives the tide, but few people know that the combination of these forces sloshes the deep ocean water back and forth.

“The resulting long waves then move around the globe and interact with the continental land masses. Calculating these effects at the coast is complex,” she said.

Just to make the job more complicated, the Moon’s effect on sea levels can vary from one location to another.

“The shape of the coastline and depth of bays along with the positions of the moon, sun, and planets are all factors that make the tidal range and frequency vary at different places around the world.

“On top of this, weather (both nearby and remote) and ocean circulation dynamics also affect the total sea level along coastlines. Where the tidal range is small, sometimes it is these other factors that have the bigger effect,” she said.

Dredging Manager Frans Schlack from Pilbara Ports Authority says knowing what the sea level will be, ahead of time, influences multi-million-dollar decisions every day.

“If it wasn’t for accurate tide predictions, we couldn’t operate safely and efficiently at the Port of Port Hedland, the world’s largest bulk export port,” he said.

So, when you look up at the night sky this Science Week just remembers, the Moon may be more powerful than you thought.

Source: Bureau of Meteorology, Australian Government.