Between the autumn of 2012 and the spring of 2013, NASA’s Voyager One spacecraft detected the vibrations of very dense plasma as it traveled through space. The vibrations, picked up using a plasma wave instrument, can be amplified so that they’re detectable by human ears. The recordings that the Voyager craft “heard” are some of the first examples of sound in deep space.
Archive for the ‘Space Exploration’
Phases of the Moon
NASA has been busy planning for a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), to be able to rendezvous with the ISS and then to take a crew back to the moon in conjunction with the Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM).
A Crew Launch Vehicle, named Ares I, derived from the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) will deliver the CEV to low Earth Orbit (LEO) while a larger rocket, Ares 5, will deliver ISS cargo of the LSAM to LEO. Once in LEO, the CEV and LSAM will dock and a J-2X Earth Departure Stage (EDS) will deliver the CEV/LSAM to Low Lunar Orbit (LLO) at 100 km. The EDS is discarded and CEV/LSAM temporarily decouple.
The LSAM then performs the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) to deliver the LSAM to the lunar surface will all 4 astronauts onboard. After some amount of time on the surface, an ascent stage from the LSAM boosts the crew back to LLO and the ascent stage docks with the unattended CEV.
The ascent stage is discarded and the service module section of the CEV boosts the crew module (with crew) towards Earth reentry, and the service module is then discarded. The crew module reenters the upper atmosphere and an ablative heat shield slows the craft to a point where it is captured by the Earth. Parachutes then slow the crew module for a land (or sea in emergencies) landing.
Whew, safe at last from solar storms! Ares V will be able to launch 130 metric tons LEO inclined at 28.5 degrees or it can deliver 55 metric tons to trans-lunar orbit. By comparison, the Saturn V was capable of 118 metric tons to LEO or 47 metric tons to lunar orbit.
See http://www.plasmaben.com/CEV.html for more info.
NASA’s Ares 1 spacecraft is seen launching from Cape Canaveral carrying the Orion spacecraft. The Lunar Access Module (LSAM), launched separately, will join with the Orion Command Module (CM) in order to deliver 4 astronauts to a Low Lunar Orbit (LLO). Once in LLO the CM and LSAM separate and the LSAM lands 4 astronauts on the surface of the moon. After ~1 week, the ascent stage of the LSAM returns the astronauts to the CM in LLO for a return back to Earth. The CM will re-enter like an Apollo or Soyuz capsule with an ablative heat shield.
Lockheed Martin’s new lunar lander and the Orion spacecraft separating in low lunar orbit.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE is a $30 million international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth. Teams must be at least 90% privately funded and must be registered to compete by December 31, 2010. The first team to land on the Moon and complete the mission objectives will be awarded $20 million; the full first prize is available until December 31, 2012. After that date, the first prize will drop to $15 million. The second team to do so will be awarded $5 million. Another $5 million will awarded in bonus prizes. The final deadline for winning the prize is December 31, 2014.
Google Lunar X PRIZE teams come from all walks of life with varied sets of experiences and ideas. Each has a unique plan for getting to the lunar surface. Get to know all of our competitors by following their blogs, watching the latest videos, or participating on their forums, and cheer them on to the Moon!
The ExoMars rover will grind samples of Martian soil to fine powder and deliver them to a suite of analytical instruments, including Urey, that will search for signs of life. Each sample will be a spoonful of material dug from underground by a robotic drill.
NASA-funded researchers are refining a tool that could not only check for the faintest traces of life’s molecular building blocks on Mars, but could also determine whether they have been produced by anything alive. (more…)