Thursday, September 16, 2010

To The Moon

     The prestigious journal, ``Science,'' in its issue dated September 17 has made some important revelations based on the data obtained from Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), according to Nasa.

     According to this study, the moon's surface is more complex than previously thought and was bombarded by two distinct populations of asteroids or comets in its youth. Interestingly, the study has been released on the eve of the global moon watch night which is on September 18.

     Two of the papers in ``Science,'' describe the data LRO's radiometer experiment which focus on the complex geological processes that forged the lunar surface. ``For the first time the Diviner instrument has provided scientists with global high resolution infra red maps of the moon, enabling them to make a definitive identification of silicate minerals commonly found within its crust,'' it says

      The new Diviner data will help in selecting the appropriate landing sites for potential robotic missions which will return samples from the moon.


      While Nasa is talking about robotic missions, the European Space Agency has just concluded an agreement which ulimately aims towards the possibility of launching a human mission to the moon.

       It is planning a lander which will touchdown autonomously with pinpoint precision near the moon's south pole, a region full of dangerous boulders and high ridges, according to the Friday's issue of Spacedaily,com, an authoritative website devoted to the developments in the international space sector.

       This is significant because Chandrayaan-2 slated for lift off in 2013 is aiming to place its lander in the south pole region suggesting that in future this particular part of the moon could perhaps turn into an area rivalry among different moon-bound nations. Data obtained from Nasa's LRO also speaks of the same zone in the moon where further research could take place.International politics, therefore, can move from the earth to the moon!
       Spacedaily states that the aim of ESA's project is to study the moonscape's unknowns and test new technology to prepare for future human landings. The precursor mission is slated for lift off in 2018. The region may be a prime location for human explorers because it offers almost continuous sunlight for power and potential access to vital resources such as water ice.

        The most recent topographic data covering the moon's south pole will be analysed in detail to locate the promising landing sites. ``The target area is poorly understood and only now we are beginning to receive the information needed to consider landing and operation there,'' it says.



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