Posts Tagged ‘lunar’

MoonMappers Lets Public Be Part of NASA Lunar Science

March 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Through MoonMappers, the public is offered a chance to be part of NASA Lunar Science

The MoonMappers citizen science project at invites the public to become part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s science team. Through this project, the public is invited to explore high-resolution Lunar images and map out scientifically interesting features. People can get engaged at

The focus of MoonMappers is two-fold: to determine the most effective way to map craters on the moon, and to use those maps to define areas for follow-up study.

“Craters can reveal all sorts of different properties about the Moon and planetary surfaces in general,” says project co-science lead Stuart Robbins (Southwest Research Institute, Boulder). Key features include, “Ages of different regions, historic spikes in the impact rate, lunar regolith depth, what may lie under the crust, and the physics of giant explosions on a planetary surface.”

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Cosmic Rays Alter Chemistry Of Lunar Ice

March 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Space scientists from the University of New Hampshire and multi-institutional colleagues report they have quantified levels of radiation on the moon’s surface from galactic cosmic ray (GCR) bombardment that over time causes chemical changes in water ice and can create complex carbon chains similar to those that help form the foundations of biological structures. In addition, the radiation process causes the lunar soil, or regolith, to darken over time, which is important in understanding the geologic history of the moon.

The scientists present their findings in a paper published online in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR). The paper, titled “Lunar Radiation Environment and Space Weathering from the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER),” is based on measurements made by the CRaTER instrument onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. The paper’s lead author is Nathan Schwadron, an associate professor of physics at the UNH Space Science Center within the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS). Co-author Harlan Spence is the director of EOS and lead scientist for the CRaTER instrument.

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Watch the Dawn Eclipse of the Moon, Dec. 10, 2011

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: Sky & Telescope photo by Richard Tresch Fienberg

Credit: Sky & Telescope photo by Richard Tresch Fienberg

If you’re anywhere in central or western North America, mark your calendar to get up before dawn this Saturday, December 10, 2011. That morning the full Moon goes through its last total eclipse until 2014.

The farther west you are in the U.S. or Canada, the better you’ll be set up for the show. If you’re in the Pacific time zone you can watch the Moon slip into Earth’s shadow completely, while the Moon is sinking low in the west-northwestern sky and dawn is brightening. In the Pacific Northwest and westernmost Canada, you can even see the Moon start to emerge from our planet’s shadow after the total eclipse is over — until moonset and sunrise end the show.

From roughly Arizona to the Dakotas, the Moon sets while it’s still totally eclipsed — though horizon obstructions and the brightening dawn may end your view somewhat before then.

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Moon’s Shadow, like a Ship, Creates Waves

October 2, 2011 Leave a comment

During a solar eclipse, the Moon’s passage overhead blocks out the majority of the Sun’s light and casts a wide swath of the Earth into darkness. The land under the Moon’s shadow receives less incoming energy than the surrounding regions, causing it to cool. In the early 1970s, researches proposed that this temperature difference could set off slow-moving waves in the upper atmosphere. They hypothesized that the waves, moving more slowly than the travelling temperature disparity from which they spawned, would pile up along the leading edge of the Moon’s path — like slow-moving waves breaking on a ship’s bow. The dynamic was shown theoretically and in early computer simulations, but it was not until a total solar eclipse on 22 July 2009 that researchers were able to observe the behavior.

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New LROC Images Offer Sharper Views of Apollo 12, 14, 17 Sites

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo by: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Photo by: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The Arizona State University team that oversees the imaging system on board NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has released the sharpest images ever taken from space of the Apollo 12, 14 and 17 sites, more clearly showing the paths made when the astronauts explored these areas.

The higher resolution of these images is possible because of adjustments made to LRO’s elliptical orbit. On Aug. 10 a special pair of stationkeeping maneuvers were performed in place of the standard maneuvers, lowering LRO from its usual altitude of 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) to an altitude that dipped as low as 21 kilometers (nearly 13 miles) as it passed over the Moon’s surface.

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NASA Invites 150 Lucky Twitter Followers to Launch of Lunar Spacecraft

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA has invited 150 followers of the agency’s Twitter account to a two-day launch Tweetup Sept. 7-8. The Tweetup is expected to culminate in the launch of the twin lunar-bound GRAIL spacecraft aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The launch is targeted for 8:37 a.m. EDT on Sept. 8. The two GRAIL spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail from crust to core. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about the moon and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

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NASA Announces Media Teleconference on New Apollo Images

September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA will host a media teleconference at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to reveal new images of three Apollo landing sites taken from the agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.

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Man in the Moon Looking Younger

August 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Earth’s Moon could be younger than previously thought, according to
new research from a team that includes Carnegie’s Richard Carlson and
former-Carnegie fellow Maud Boyet. Their work will be published online
in Nature on August 17.

The prevailing theory of our Moon’s origin is that it was created by a
giant impact between a large planet-like object and the proto-Earth.
The energy of this impact was sufficiently high that the Moon formed
from melted material that was ejected into space. As the Moon cooled,
this magma solidified into different mineral components.

Analysis of lunar rock samples thought to have been derived from the
original magma has given scientists a new estimate of the Moon’s age.

According to this theory for lunar formation, a rock type called
ferroan anorthosite, or FAN, is the oldest of the Moon’s crustal
rocks, but scientists have had difficulty dating FAN samples. The
research team, led by Lars E. Borg of the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory, included Carlson of Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial
Magnetism, Boyet — now at Université Blaise Pascal — and James N.
Connelly of the University of Copenhagen. They used newly refined
techniques to determine the age of a sample of FAN from the lunar rock
collection at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

The team analyzed the isotopes of the elements lead and neodymium to
place the FAN sample’s age at 4.36 billion years. This figure is
significantly younger than earlier estimates of the Moon’s age that
range as old as the age of the solar system at 4.568 billion years.
The new, younger age obtained for the oldest lunar crust is similar to
ages obtained for the oldest terrestrial minerals — zircons from
western Australia — suggesting that the oldest crusts on both Earth
and Moon formed at approximately the same time, and that this time
dates from shortly after the giant impact.

This study is the first in which a single sample of FAN yielded
consistent ages from multiple isotope dating techniques. This result
strongly suggests that these ages pinpoint the time at which the
sample crystallized.

“The extraordinarily young age of this lunar sample either means that
the Moon solidified significantly later than previous estimates, or
that we need to change our entire understanding of the Moon’s
geochemical history,” Carlson said.

# # #

Funding for this work was provided by the Department of Energy, and
portions of the work were supported by the NASA Cosmochemistry

The Carnegie Institution for Science ( is a
private, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.,
with six research departments throughout the U.S. Since its founding
in 1902, the Carnegie Institution has been a pioneering force in basic
scientific research. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology,
developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology,
and Earth and planetary science.