China Releases True Colour HD Photos of the Moon

The China National Space Administration has released a series of beautiful images from its recent moon mission. The photos – all true colour and high definition, taken by the Chang’e 3 lunar lander and Yutu rover in 2013 – are available for download from the Chinese Science and Application Center for Moon and Deepspace Exploration website. While the Chinese site is a tad unstable, thankfully Senior Editor and planetary evangelist Emily Lakdawalla grabbed some of the highlights and is hosting them on the Lunar Society blog.

China’s Chang’e 3 mission – named for the Goddess of the Moon in Chinese mythology – was the first soft moon landing for 37 years, the first since Russia’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. The Yutu rover, nicknamed the “Jade Rabbit” then explored and photographed the lunar surface with its HD camera, radar, x-ray, and infrared spectrometers.

The results from the Chang’e 3 mission suggested that lunar surface is more diverse than previously thought.

After a year of exposure to lunar conditions, Yutu was left frozen, unable to fully mobilise, and yet was still able to collect data and images, and beam them back to China, until March 2015.

An image from NASA (courtesy of TechCrunch) shows where the Chang’e 3 lunar lander touched down on the surface of the moon:

 

Russia Planning a Permanent Manned Moonbase

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has announced plans to establish a permanent manned base on the moon within the next 15 years. Roscosmos aims to launch a probe to scout Lunar locations in 2024, and has already started construction on the Luna 25 lander that will send its people up to Earth’s satellite in 2030, Russia’s official state news agency Tass reports (via Yahoo).

During the space race between the US and Soviet Russia in the Late-1950s and 1960s, Russia was way ahead of its Western rival, launching the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in 1957, and putting the first man in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The Soviet space program, however, suffered a severe decline – the details of which were kept secret until Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost (openness) policy in the 1980s – and was soon usurped by NASA, who landed Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, in 1969.

‘’The moon is not an intermediate point in the race. Ot is a separate, even a self-contained goal,” Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Premier, wrote in the Government’s official newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta. “It would hardly be rational to make some ten or 20 flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids. This process has the beginning, but has no end. We are coming to the moon forever.”

 

Caves on the Moon Could House Astronauts in the Future

When you look at the moon what do you see? Craters or holes? Well there are both on the surface of our moon and according to NASA the holes in the moons surface could mean big underground cave systems. NASA wants to utilize these cave systems as shelter for astronauts as it provides shelter from radiation, prevent the danger of micro meteorites, hardly any dust and there wouldn’t be any extreme day/night temperature swings.

The pits on the surface on the moon vary from anything around 5m in diameter to 900m. The pits are said to have formed when the moons surface collapsed into the cave below, as for the caves themselves they were apparently formed by ancient lava streams, so NASA says. There have been over 200 pits found on the surface so far and more are being discovered all the time.

NASA are wanting to explore these caves soon but they’ll probably send drones in first rather than humans, just to be safe. Once a vast majority has been explored NASA hope to be able to have astronauts using them as their accommodation whilst they are miles away from Earth. Wouldn’t mind a night in a moon cave myself.

Thanks to The Verge for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of The Verge.

Telescopes, Lunar Landers And Commercial Developement On The Moon

We are perhaps taking the first step in colonizing our Moon. The last time a human visited the Moon was in 1972, since then only unmanned spacecraft have visited the Moon. Wired.com recently reported that two companies are working together to create a scientific and commercial base on the moon, International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA ) is heading off the project with help from Moon Express are aiming to start construction as soon as 2016.

The two companies will start off by placing two telescopes as well as a 2-meter radio antenna atop a lunar mountain located on the moon’s south pole. This location would give optimal viewing of the center of the Milky Way galaxy giving us perhaps the clearest view possible .

One main concern will be how to design equipment to sustain the harsh temperatures of the moon, reaching highs over 120 degrees Celsius in the sun, and lows below -170 degrees Celsius. Electricity shouldn’t be much of an issue, as they will be able to collect plenty of energy from solar panels.

Moon Express, which aims to become the FedEx of the stars has yet to land a lunar lander on the moon as of yet, but they aim to land their first payload in 2015 in order to win 20 million dollars from the Google Lunar X-Prize. As well as delivering ILO-X, a small telescope in order to test ILOA’s hardware as well as software.

We have so much that we have yet to discover on Earth, I can’t help but wonder why all of this interest in the Moon, and Mars, why not build factories under the ocean.

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Wired.