If you lived on the moon, you’d have to exercise for hours a day to maintain bone and muscle mass. That’s because the moon’s gravity is just one-sixth that of the Earth, and the everyday strain of working against gravity is part of what keeps our bodies healthy.
Fifty years ago, 5 unmanned lunar orbiters circled the moon, taking
extremely high resolution photos of the surface. They were trying to
find the perfect landing site for the Apollo missions. They would be
good enough to blow up to 40 x 54ft images that the astronauts would
walk across looking for the great spot. After their use, the images were
locked away from the public, as at the time they would have revealed
the superior technology of the USA’s spy satellite cameras, which the
orbiters cameras were designed from. Instead the images from that time
were grainy and low resolution, made to be so by NASA.
NASA is returning to the Moon with commercial and international partners
as part of an overall agency Exploration Campaign in support of Space
Policy Directive 1. It all starts with robotic missions on the lunar
surface, as well as a Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway for astronauts in
space beyond the Moon.
Right now, NASA is preparing to purchase new small lunar payload
delivery services, develop lunar landers, and conduct more research on
the Moon’s surface ahead of a human return. And that long-term
exploration and development of the Moon will give us the experience for
the next giant leap – human missions to Mars and destinations beyond.
The agency released a draft Request for Proposals April 27, encouraging
the U.S. commercial space industry to introduce new technologies to
deliver payloads to the Moon. This request for Commercial Lunar Payload
Services (CLPS) will further expand efforts to support development and
partnership opportunities on the lunar surface.
Using these services, the agency will accelerate a robotic return to
Moon, with upcoming missions targeted for two to three years earlier
than previously planned. NASA intends to award multiple contracts for
these services through the next decade, with contract missions to the
lunar surface expected to begin as early as 2019, and with a company’s
first delivery no later than Dec. 31, 2021.
Explanation: Why is there a large boulder near the center of Tycho’s peak? Tycho crater on the Moon is one of the easiest features to see, visible even to the unaided eye (inset, lower right). But at the center of Tycho (inset, upper left) is a something unusual – a 120-meter boulder. This boulder was imaged at very high resolution at sunrise, over the past decade, by the Moon-circling Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The leading origin hypothesis is that that the boulder was thrown during the tremendous collision that formed Tycho crater about 110 million years ago, and by chance came back down right near the center of the newly-formed central mountain. Over the next billion years meteor impacts and moonquakes should slowly degrade Tycho’s center, likely causing the central boulder to tumble 2000 meters down to the crater floor and disintegrate.