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The Moon Arkive

Back to The Moon












Image Credit & Copyright: Elias Politis  P: February 29, 2016

To Read the Stories Published in The Moon Section in September-December 2015

Moon on Earth: August 23: 2017: Pila: Poland


Habitat Lunares Crew: Released 23:08:2017: 09:38. Image: Monica Alcazar-Duarte


||August 23: 2017 || ά. This crew of six is midway through a simulated expedition on the Moon, based at the new Habitat Lunares base in Poland. The only facility of its kind in Europe, this privately run habitat is a simulated lunar base set up in a former military airport in Pila in northwest Poland. The crew stays on the base for two weeks at a time, physically cut off from the external world. Lunares has no windows, is run on lunar time and its occupants can leave only by venturing into an adjoining hanger, which is filled with Moon-like basalt rocks for simulated Moonwalks.

This Lunar Expedition One is the second of four expeditions this year, lasting August 15-29. The mission is controlled from ESA’s technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, focusing on exploring changes to the crew’s biological clocks during their stay. It performs scheduling, communicates with the base and oversees lighting inside the habitat. “The analogue astronauts are completely cut off from external light sources. Instead, we control the base’s automated lighting systems.” explains Ms Agata Kolodziejczyk, Research Fellow in ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team, who led the establishment of the habitat as part of her research into ‘time architecture’ for future off-planet bases.

“I regard Lunares as an extremely valuable new chronobiological laboratory for Europe, with full bioethical committee agreements in place. We’ll be checking how the participants’ subjective time perception alters with the changes we induce. The habitat contains an LED light system providing a shifting combination of colours throughout the day, to mimic changes in sunlight. We’re extending the length of this artificial ‘day’ to put their circadian rhythms out of alignment and induce jet lag.

But we’re, also, testing new prototypes of ‘physiological lights’, that emit in the ultraviolet, which penetrates through the retina to the brain’s pineal gland, to see if this is sufficient to reset their body clocks.”

A survey of US Space Shuttle crews found that half depended on medication to go to sleep in orbit, while other space-dwellers have reported disrupted body clocks, a condition, that has been linked to various health problems. Redesigned lighting systems, that fit better with human physiology should result in happier, healthier astronauts, lighting aboard the International Space Station has recently been updated for this very reason.

In parallel, more than 20 other experiments are, also, under way. ESA and the International Lunar Exploration Working Group supplied the ExoGeoLab lander, as well as, a telescope for use during simulated Moonwalks.

Polish ESA Young Graduate Trainee Mr Mateusz Kraiński has, also, built a rover and simulator system in his free time. This Netherlands-based rover is being controlled remotely by the crew from Poland.

Seen top row left to right: Vice-Commander Mr Mariusz Słonina, Communication Officer Ms Dorota Budzyń, Astrobiologist Ms Joanna Kuźma. Bottom row left to right: Medical Officer Mr Matt Harasymczuk, Biomedical Engineer Mr Grzegorz Ambroszkiewicz and Commander Mr Piotrek Konorski. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Back to the Moon

For ESA's three-D-printed lunar base concept, Foster+Partners devised a weight-bearing ‘catenary’ dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts. Image: ESA: Foster + Partners

|| June 15: 2017 || ά. The last manned mission to the Moon took place in December 1972. Although several probes have targeted the Moon since then, we humans have concentrated on living and working in low Earth orbit and on exploring the rest of the Solar System with some ambitious robotic missions. Today, the general view shared by Earth's space agencies is changing. The exploration of outer space is still high on everybody's list but it has become apparent that many future space activities will require a human presence on the Moon first.

So far, no humans have ever been to the polar regions of the Moon, where unmanned missions have found water in the form of ice. Water is an important resource because it can be used to produce oxygen, which will be vital for human survival on the Moon. But what does this all mean? If we are going to return to the Moon, astronauts will need somewhere to live, in a safe and stable environment. A new study launched under ESA’s General Studies Programme:GSP, called, ‘Conceiving a lunar base using three-D printing technologies’, is set to find out ways of creating habitable structures using all resources available at the destination.

The study is looking into additive manufacturing or three-D printing technology from a wider perspective, including the ancillary equipment needed to operate this and the high-level requirements to ultimately achieve a lunar habitat. Several studies have been carried out by different space agencies to see how humans could survive on the Moon. In this respect, additive manufacturing or three-D printing has been identified as one of the most promising applications for building structures on the Moon.

Lunar soil as a base material for a three-D printer has already been used to fabricate honeycomb-like bricks from which all kinds of useful structures can be made. An even faster way of producing a lunar habitat would make use of an inflatable base that can be covered layer-by-layer with lunar soil or ‘regolith’ to create a protective shell.

However, these studies have focused on conceptual designs, often based on single elements, rather than taking into account the overall needs in terms of energy, collection and transportation of the regolith, machinery and so on.

This new GSP study is to analyse the possibilities of using additive manufacturing for the realisation of a lunar base, including the production of internal equipment for the crew, the processing of food based on a limited number of basic elements and the possibility of making spare parts needed to maintain such base. It will address technologies, that could be used in a lunar environment and investigate the developmental needs of three-D printing to ensure a sustainable, safe place for astronauts on the Moon. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Look Out for the Asteroid to Fly by Mother Earth: April 19

Image: NASA Video-Capture


|| April 09: 2017 || ά. A relatively large near-Earth asteroid discovered nearly three years ago will fly safely past Earth on April 19 at a distance of about 01.1 million miles or 01.8 million kilometres or about 04.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon. Although, there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid of this size. The asteroid, known as 2014JO25, was discovered in May 2014 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, a project of NASA's NEO Observations Programme in collaboration with the University of Arizona.

An NEO is a near-Earth object. Contemporary measurements by NASA's NEOWISE mission indicate that the asteroid is roughly 2,000 feet, 650 metres in size and that its surface is about twice as reflective as that of the moon. At this time very little else is known about the object’s physical properties, even though, its trajectory is well known. The asteroid will approach the Earth from the direction of the sun and will become visible in the night sky after April 19. It is predicted to brighten to about magnitude 11, when it could be visible in small optical telescopes for one or two nights before it fades as the distance from the Earth rapidly increases.

Small asteroids pass within this distance of the Earth several times each week but this upcoming close approach is the closest by any known asteroid of this size or larger, since asteroid Toutatis, a 03.1-mile, five-kilometre asteroid, which approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004. The next known encounter of an asteroid of comparable size will occur in 2027 when the half-mile-wide, 800-metre-wide asteroid 1999 AN10 will fly by at one lunar distance, about 236,000 miles, 380,000 kilometres.

The April 19 encounter provides an outstanding opportunity to study this asteroid, and astronomers plan to observe it with telescopes around the world to learn as much about it as possible. Radar observations are planned at NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the resulting radar images could reveal surface details as small as a few meters.

The encounter on April 19 is the closest this asteroid has come to Earth for at least the last 400 years and will be its closest approach for at least the next 500 years. Further, on April 19, the comet PanSTARRS:C:2015ER61 will make its closest approach to the Earth, at a very safe distance of 109 million miles, 175 million kilometres. A faint fuzzball in the sky when it was discovered in 2015 by the Pan-STARRS NEO survey team using a telescope on the summit of Haleakala, Hawaii, the comet has brightened considerably due to a recent outburst and is now visible in the dawn sky with binoculars or a small telescope.

DC Agle: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif: 818-393-9011: agle at

: Editor: Tony Greicius: NASA: ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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To Survive the Long Dark Lunar Night: Will You Sing to the Earth

A high-definition image of Earth taken by Japan’s Kaguya lunar orbiter in November 2007.Image: JAXA: NHK


|| March 24: 2017 || ά. Designers of the future Moon missions and bases have to contend with a chilling challenge: how might their creations endure the fortnight-long lunar night? ESA has arrived at a low-cost way of surviving. During prolonged night, when the surface is lit only by blue Earthlight, temperatures dip below –170ºC. Some locations at higher latitudes have shorter nights, though others have much longer or even permanent darkness.

Numerous robotic missions have perished during this prolonged cold. Russia’s Lunokhod-tworover, for instance, failed to make it through the night in May 1973, its radioactive heater having gradually run down after four months of exploring. The Apollo manned missions stayed on the surface only a few days at a time and all during the early lunar morning. But future lunar settlers will have to live in the night as well as the day, bearing in mind that vital solar energy and heat would be unavailable during the 14 days of darkness.

“Up until now, radioactive heat and power sources have been the preferred solution for lunar habitats.” explains ESA’s Moritz Fontaine. “But these would multiply the cost and complexity of any expedition. So we’re exploring a more sustainable solution, using the capacity of moondust to absorb and store energy when hit by sunlight, then releasing this energy during the lunar night.”

Driven by the temperature difference, this heat engine would be kept running directly by the heat of the Sun during the day, illuminated surface temperatures rise well above 100ºC at the equator while simultaneously storing excess heat in the soil.

Once night falls, the heat engine would be kept running in turn by the gradual release of the energy from the heated soil. “The principle has been worked out in detail.” adds Moritz. “The next step, being undertaken through ESA’s General Studies Programme, is to perform numerical and simulation studies to put values on the heat storage and electricity provision the system would enable.

“The results should then allow the construction of a small demonstrator to test the concept in practice.”

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Cogito Ergo Sum: Descartes: The First Lunar Meditation

 Temple atop Shackleton Crater: Image: Jorge Mañes Rubio. Spatial design and visualisation in collaboration with DITISHOE

|| January 26: 2017 || ά.  A near-perpetually sunlit peak close to the Moon’s south pole has been selected by ESA’s artist-in-residence as the site of a building like no other. Artist Jorge Mañes Rubio, part of ESA’s future-oriented Advanced Concepts Team:ACT, has designed a place of contemplation to serve a future lunar settlement. It would be built on the sunlit rim of Shackleton Crater, which is bathed much of the time in sunlight while overlooking a 04.2 km-deep interior mired in perpetual shadow.

The lunar poles have previously been identified as promising locations for future settlement because craters kept shaded by the lowness of the Sun in the local sky are thought to serve as ‘cold traps’ to preserve water ice, potentially a vital source of water, air or rocket fuel. The first building has yet to be erected on the Moon, and most designs for lunar buildings have been strictly functional in purpose: places to live, work or perform research.

“I’ve been having all sorts of discussions with my ACT colleagues, including speculating on the likely needs of future lunar settlers.” explains Jorge. “What kind of social interactions will they share, what cultural activities and rituals will they have, and what sort of art and artefacts will they be producing? Humans have been creating art for at least 30,000 years, so I have no doubt this will continue in space and on the Moon.

These discussions have been very valuable and stimulating, since they lead us to consider aspects of human exploration that aren’t usually considered by scientists and engineers.” adds Leopold Summerer, heading the ACT. “To benefit fully from Jorge’s creativity, it was important to give him full artistic freedom on what and how he would do.”

What Jorge terms his ‘Moon Temple’ is intended as a symbol of unity for humankind, reflecting the pull that our natural satellite has always had on the human imagination. “Lunar settlement represents a perfect chance for a fresh start, a place where there are no social conventions, no nations and no religion, somewhere where these concepts will need to be rethought from scratch.

Humans have brought flags to the Moon, but they’ve been bleached white by sunlight since then, almost as if the Moon is protecting itself from such terrestrial concepts. So this Temple is intended as a mythic and universal structure that can hopefully bring people together in this new environment in novel ways.”

At the same time, the 50 m-high domed structure is also something that could one day be built. Jorge talked to ESA materials specialists studying 3D printing of lunar soil. “The result might resemble ‘abode’ architecture, an ancient method of building that is still made use to this day.” adds Jorge.

“This was a big source of inspiration for me, along with 18th century utopian architects such as Étienne-Louis de Boullée and Claude Nicolas Ledoux, who designed massive structures too large to be feasibly built on Earth but practical in the Moon’s one-sixth gravity.”

Similarly, the Temple’s free-standing dome would eventually collapse under its own weight on Earth, but could endure on the Moon. Jorge put similar thought into the site of his building: he selected Shackleton over nearby Malapert Crater because Earth is perpetually visible from Malapert, while from Shackleton it will only be seen for two weeks at a time, inspiring more independent thinking.

One opening in the dome will look Earthwards, while another at the top will peer out into deep space. As a next step, Jorge aims to create small sculptures and artefacts out of simulated lunar materials, inspired by the simulated lunar environment at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre near Cologne, Germany. ω.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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The December Moon with  Some Green Neighbour

|| December 18: 2016|| ά. This is the best ever we have seen the moon from an earthling's perspective and definitely, the best ever image of the moon that we have ever taken. That was on December 11. The only issue is, with this clarity of the image, that green neighbour, is somewhat of a mystery! No idea who that celestial neighbour is or whether that's just a camera-blur.

What can be visible is the most beautiful almost milky emerald glow-ring around the moon. Just, don't run away with the ring nor with the spoon, even if the cow wants to jump! But, you are welcome to remain on Mother Earth and have a look at what the researchers have found out about the water cycle and how that impacts of the rain and the dry, over there, in The Earth. ω.

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Hadley Rille on the Moon, Seen by SMART-01

Hadley Rille on the Moon, seen by SMART-01: Released 25.07.2016 11:29: Image: ESA:Space-X:Space Exploration Institute

|| August 21: 2016|| ά. This strangely meandering channel, carved on the Moon, is one of the most famous features on our nearest celestial neighbour. It shot to fame in July 1971 when the two astronauts of Apollo 15 drove their lunar rover to its very edge.

Known as Hadley Rille, the feature is named after the 18th century British mathematician and inventor John Hadley. In 1721, Hadley presented a telescope that used a non-spherical mirror to the Royal Society in London. Shaped as a parabola, the mirror avoided the aberration caused by a spherical mirror, and set the shape for all telescope mirrors to come.

Hadley Rille is thought to have been carved by an ancient lava flow, dating back just over 03 billion years to soon after the Moon formed. It stretches more than 120 km, up to 1500 m wide and more than 300 m deep in some places.

From their close-up position, the Apollo astronauts photographed what looked like strata in the walls of the rille. This suggests that there were many volcanic eruptions, each building a new layer. Then, a channel of lava cut through these deposits. When it drained away, it left the sinuous rille we see today. However, planetary scientists are not entirely sure of the details of the process.

This image was taken by ESA’s SMART-01, which explored the Moon from 2004 to 2006. Its miniaturised camera demonstrated that smaller equipment could still provide first-class science.

This image was taken from an altitude of about 2000 km. It spans about 100 km and shows the region around Hadley Rille centred at about 25°N / 3°E.

SMART-01 was ESA’s first mission to the Moon. It tested new engine technologies, including a solar electric propulsion system that will carry ESA’s BepiColombo mission to Mercury in 2018.

At the end of its mission, SMART-01 was flown closer and closer to the lunar surface until it was intentionally crashed on September 03, 2006. During its mission, it had completed more than 2000 orbits of the Moon. ω.

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Clair de Lune

Image: NASA

|| May 08: 2016 || The regular daily and monthly rhythms of Earth's only natural satellite, the moon, have guided timekeepers for thousands of years. Its influence on Earth's cycles, notably tides, has been charted by many cultures in many ages. The moon moderates Earth's wobble on its axis, leading to a relatively stable climate over billions of years. From Earth, we always see the same face of the moon because the moon is spinning on its axis at the same speed that it is going around Earth, that is, it is in synchronous rotation with Earth.

The light areas of the moon are known as the highlands. The dark features, called maria (Latin for seas), are impact basins that were filled with lava between 4.2 and 1.2 billion years ago. These light and dark areas represent rocks of different composition and ages, which provide evidence for how the early crust may have crystallized from a lunar magma ocean. The craters themselves, which have been preserved for billions of years, provide an impact history for the moon and other bodies in the inner solar system.

NASA/Zuber, M.T. et al., Nature, 2012

The leading theory of the moon's origin is that a Mars-sized body collided with Earth approximately 4.5 billion years ago, and the resulting debris from both Earth and the impactor accumulated to form our natural satellite. The newly formed moon was in a molten state. Within about 100 million years, most of the global "magma ocean" had crystallized, with less-dense rocks floating upward and eventually forming the lunar crust. The early moon may have developed an internal dynamo, the mechanism for global magnetic fields for terrestrial planets.

Since the ancient time of volcanism, the arid, lifeless moon has remained nearly unchanged. With too sparse an atmosphere to impede impacts, a steady rain of asteroids, meteoroids, and comets strikes the surface. Over billions of years, the surface has been ground up into fragments ranging from huge boulders to powder. Nearly the entire moon is covered by a rubble pile of charcoal-gray, powdery dust and rocky debris called the lunar regolith. Beneath is a region of fractured bedrock referred to as the megaregolith.

The moon was first visited by the U.S.S.R.'s Luna 1 and Luna 2 in 1959, and a number of U.S. and U.S.S.R. robotic spacecraft followed. The U.S. sent three classes of robotic missions to prepare the way for human exploration: the Rangers (1961-1965) were impact probes, the Lunar Orbiters (1966-1967) mapped the surface to find landing sites, and the Surveyors (1966-1968) were soft landers. The first human landing on the moon was on 20 July 1969. During the Apollo missions of 1969-1972, 12 American astronauts walked on the moon and used a Lunar Roving Vehicle to travel on the surface and extend their studies of soil mechanics, meteoroids, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind. The Apollo astronauts brought back 382 kilograms (842 pounds) of rock and soil to Earth for study.

After a long hiatus, lunar exploration resumed in the 1990s with the U.S. robotic missions Clementine and Lunar Propspector. Results from both missions suggested that water ice might be present at the lunar poles, but a controlled impact of the Prospector spacecraft produced no observable water.

The European Space Agency was first in the new millennium with SMART-1 in 2003, followed by Kaguya (Japan), Chang'e-1 (China), and Chandrayaan-1 (India) in 2007-2008. The U.S. began a new series of robotic lunar missions with the joint launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) in 2009. In 2011, a pair of repurposed spacecraft began the ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the moon's Interaction with the Sun) mission. In 2012, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) twin spacecraft studied the moon's gravity field and produced the highest-resolution gravity field map of any celestial body.

Apollo 17: Source: Scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt is photographed standing next to a huge, split boulder during the third Apollo 17 extravehicular activity (EVA) at the Taurus-Littrow landing site on the moon. Schmitt is the Apollo 17 lunar module pilot. This picture was taken by astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander. While Cernan and Schmitt descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Challenger" to explore the moon, astronaut Ronald E. Evans, command module pilot, remained with the Apollo 17 Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit. NASA: Published: 12 June 2012

How the Moon Got its Name

Earth's only natural satellite is simply called the moon because people didn't know other moons existed until Galileo Galilei discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610. Other moons in our solar system are given names so they won't be confused with each other. We call them moons because, like our own, they are natural satellites orbiting a solar system body (which in turn is orbiting a star).

Significant Dates

This map shows the gravity field of the moon as measured by NASA's GRAIL mission. The viewing perspective, known as a Mercator projection, shows the far side of the moon in the center and the nearside (as viewed from Earth) at either side. Units are milliGalileos where 1 Galileo is 1 centimeter per second squared. Reds correspond to mass excesses which create areas of higher local gravity, and blues correspond to mass deficits which create areas of lower local gravity. Image: NASA/ARC/MIT: Published: December 05, 2012

1610: Galileo Galilei is the first to use a telescope to make scientific observations of the moon.

1959-1976: The U.S.S.R.'s Luna program of 17 robotic missions achieves many "firsts" and three sample returns.

1961-1968: The U.S. Ranger, Lunar Orbiter, and Surveyor robotic missions pave the way for Apollo human lunar landings.

1969: Astronaut Neil Armstrong is the first human to walk on the moon's surface.

1994-1999: Clementine and Lunar Prospector data suggest that water ice may exist at the lunar poles.

2003: The European Space Agency's SMART-1 lunar orbiter inventories key chemical elements.

2007-2008: Japan's second lunar spacecraft, Kaguya, and China's first lunar spacecraft, Chang'e 1, both begin one-year missions orbiting the moon; India's Chandrayaan-1 soon follows in lunar orbit.

2008: The NASA Lunar Science Institute is formed to help lead NASA's research activities related to lunar exploration goals.

2009: NASA's LRO and LCROSS launch together, beginning the U.S. return to lunar exploration. In October, LCROSS was directed to impact a permanently shadowed region near the lunar south pole, resulting in the discovery of water ice.

2011: Twin GRAIL spacecraft launch to map the interior of the moon from crust to core, and NASA begins the ARTEMIS mission to study the moon's interior and surface composition.


‽: 090516


Now, the Moon Has Got a Home on Earth: ESA's New Online Moon School

|| April 22, 2016 || ESA has set its sights on our Moon, with a vision of working together with international partners to return to our closest neighbour.  What have scientists learnt about the Moon since the first probe in 1959 and the Apollo lunar landing 10 years later? What questions are unanswered and what is the future of lunar exploration?

An interactive web documentary launched today allows users to explore these questions and the missions to the Moon through European scientists who are working on lunar science right now.

By having the scientists and experts express their views and ideas, the website offers a one-stop-shop to learn about the past, present and future of lunar exploration.

From radio telescopes on the far side of the Moon to how Earth’s natural satellite formed, the interactive documentary is a comprehensive guide for a general audience.

Featuring interviews with scientists from all over Europe and a timeline of all the world’s missions to the Moon, the website is a repository of knowledge where you can keep coming back to find more.

ESA’s Massimo Sabbatini explains: “We built a web documentary where the user is encouraged to discover the content through their own curiosity. We will keep updating the information and expand it to other domains of human and robotic exploration in the future.”

Browse and explore through themes of science and technology or via the lunar missions. You are encouraged to immerse yourself in the many aspects of flying to the Moon and performing science on the Moon. From launch and orbital dynamics, to cameras and rovers, from Surveyor-1 to the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, users can find out why the Moon is in the spotlight again.

Visit the website here


P: 230416


March 16, 1966: Gemini's First Docking of Two Spacecraft in Earth Orbit


On March 16, 1966, command pilot Neil Armstrong and pilot David Scott successfully docked their Gemini VIII spacecraft with the Agena target vehicle, the first-ever linking of two spacecraft together in Earth orbit.












Image: NASA

||April 14, 2016 || On March 16, 1966, command pilot Neil Armstrong and pilot David Scott successfully docked their Gemini VIII spacecraft with the Agena target vehicle, the first-ever linking of two spacecraft together in Earth orbit. This crucial spaceflight technology milestone would prove vital to the success of future moon landing missions. Catching up with already-orbiting spacecraft also has been essential during missions to the International Space Station.

The astronauts aboard the Gemini spacecraft took this side view photograph of the Agena target vehicle at a distance of 45 feet during an inspection prior to docking. The two spacecraft were in the third orbit of the mission, above the west coast of Mexico.

Because of problems with the Gemini spacecraft control system, the crew was forced to undock after approximately 30 minutes, as the spacecraft-target vehicle combination had begun to encounter increasing yaw and roll rates. The crew regained control of their spacecraft by using the reentry control system (RCS), and the decision was made in Mission Control to follow mission rules that dictated once the RCS was activated, the crew must be brought home. The Gemini VIII landed early in a secondary landing area in the Pacific, splashing down within two miles of the predicted impact point 10 hours, 41 minutes after liftoff.

( Editor: Sarah Loff: NASA)


P: 140416


The Moon Engulfed in Permanent, Lopsided, Dust Cloud

Darryl Waller Writing
















This image shows an artist's conception of the lunar dust exosphere surrounding the moon. The color represents the amount of material ejected from the surface, showing a peak in the apex direction. A haze of dust is shown around the moon. Gray faded circles are overlaid on the lunar surface to represent the random nature of the primary impactors. An artist's conception of the LADEE spacecraft's trajectory is also shown. Credits: University of Colorado Boulder/Daniel Morgan/Jamey Szalay

||April 11, 2016 ||New science results from NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, mission indicate that the moon is engulfed in a permanent, but lopsided, dust cloud that increases in density when annual events like the Geminids meteor shower spew shooting stars, according to a new study led by University of Colorado Boulder.

"Knowledge about the dusty environments in space has practical applications," said CU-Boulder physics Professor Mihaly Horanyi. "Knowing where the dust is and where it is headed in the solar system could help mitigate hazards for future human exploration, including dust particles damaging spacecraft or harming astronauts."

The cloud was discovered using data from a detector on board LADEE called the Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX) designed and built by CU-Boulder. LDEX charted more than 140,000 impacts during the six-month long mission, which launched in September 2013 and orbited the moon for about six months. NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, was responsible for spacecraft design, development, testing and mission operations, in addition to managing the overall mission.

“The LDEX team has been painstakingly analyzing their data since the LADEE mission ended on April 18, 2014,” said LADEE project scientist at Ames, Rick Elphic. “Their results answer one of the big LADEE science questions: is there a dust component to the tenuous lunar atmosphere? And if so, why is it there?”

According to Horanyi, the cloud is primarily made up of tiny dust grains kicked up from the moon’s surface by the impact of high-speed, interplanetary dust particles. A single dust particle from a comet striking the moon’s surface lofts thousands of smaller dust specks into the airless environment, and the lunar cloud is maintained by regular impacts from such particles.

“Identifying this permanent dust cloud engulfing the moon was a nice gift from this mission,” said Horanyi, the principal investigator on LDEX and the lead author of the study. “We can carry these findings over to studies of other airless planetary objects like the moons of other planets and asteroids.”

A paper on the subject appears in the June 17 issue of Nature. Co-authors on the study include Jamey Szalay, Sascha Kempf, Eberhard Grun and Zoltan Sternovsky from CU-Boulder, Juergen Schmidt from the University Oulu in Finland, and Ralf Srama from the University of Stuttgart in Germany.

The first hints of a cloud of dust around the moon came in the late 1960s when NASA cameras aboard unmanned moon landers captured a bright glow during lunar sunsets. Several years later, Apollo astronauts orbiting the moon reported a significant glow above the lunar surface when approaching sunrise, a phenomenon brighter than the sun alone should have been able to create at that location.

Since the new findings don’t square with the Apollo reports of a thicker, higher dust cloud, conditions back then may have been somewhat different. The dust on the moon -- which is dark and sticky and regularly dirtied the suits of moonwalking astronauts -- was created over several billion years as interplanetary dust particles incessantly pounded the rocky lunar surface.

Many of the cometary dust particles impacting lunar surface are traveling at thousands of miles per hour in a retrograde, or counterclockwise orbit around the sun, the opposite orbital direction of the solar system’s planets. This causes high-speed, near head-on collisions with the dust particles and the moon’s leading surface as the Earth-moon system travel together around the sun .

Media contact: Darryl Waller, 650-604-4789

( Editor: Sharon Lozano: NASA)


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NASA's LRO Moves Closer to the Lunar Surface

Nancy Neal Jones Writing

















The image is a visualization of the LRO spacecraft as it passes low over the moon¹s surface near the lunar South Pole. From this vantage point LRO will continue to make detailed measurements of the lunar surface, and now from its lower orbit near the South Pole will make unique observations of selected areas. Credits: NASA/GSFC/SVS


||April 10, 2016||NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has completed a maneuver that lowered the spacecraft’s orbit to within 20 kilometers (12 miles) above areas near the lunar South Pole, the closest the spacecraft has ever been to the lunar surface.

On Monday, May 4, 2015 flight controllers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland performed two station keeping burns to change LRO’s orbit. The new orbit allows LRO to pass within 20 km (12 miles) of the South Pole and 165 km (103 miles) over the North Pole.

"We're taking LRO closer to the moon than we've ever done before, but the maneuver is similar to all other station keeping maneuvers, so the mission operations team knows exactly what to do,” said Steve Odendahl, LRO mission manager from NASA Goddard.

To optimize science return, team members made the decision to change the orbit after determining that the new orbit configuration poses no danger to the spacecraft. LRO can operate for many years at this orbit.

The new orbit enables exciting new science and will see improved measurements near the South Pole. Two of the instruments benefit significantly from the orbit change. The return signal from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) laser shots will become stronger, producing a better signal. LOLA will obtain better measurements of specific regions near the South Pole that have unique illumination conditions. Diviner will be able to see smaller lunar features through the collection of higher resolution data.

“The lunar poles are still places of mystery where the inside of some craters never see direct sunlight and the coldest temperatures in the solar system have been recorded,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA Goddard. “By lowering the orbit over the South Pole, we are essentially magnifying the sensitivity of the LRO instruments which will help us understand the mechanisms by which water or other volatiles might be trapped there.”

Launched on June 18, 2009, LRO has collected a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge about the moon. LRO is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

For more information on LRO

Nancy Neal Jones: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
( Editor: Lynn Jenner: NASA)


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This was 1982 and Won't Be Again Until 2033: The Supermoon Lunar Eclipse














Photo credit: NASA/Rami Daud

||April 09, 2016||The supermoon lunar eclipse captured as it moved over NASA’s Glenn Research Center on September 27, 2015.

This rare event last occurred in 1982 and won’t happen again until 2033. NASA Goddard deputy project scientist Noah Petro explains more on the science behind this phenomenon.

( Editor: Kelly Heidman: NASA)


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The Moon Rises in Audience with the Noctilucent Clouds














Released 08/08/2013 5:56 pm: Copyright ESA/NASA

March 26, 2016: Photograph taken by ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano from on board the International Space Station showing a rising crescent Moon seen through rare noctilucent clouds. Luca is part of the six-strong Expedition 36 crew currently resident on the ISS. More about his six-month Volare Mission: Volare mission website and Luca Parmitano's blog. More of his photographs are available on Flickr


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Ancient Polar Ice Reveals Tilting of Earth’s Moon

Kimberly Williams Writing















This polar hydrogen map of the moon’s northern and southern hemispheres identifies the location of the moon’s ancient and present day poles. In the image, the lighter areas show higher concentrations of hydrogen and the darker areas show lower concentrations. Credits: James Keane, University of Arizona; Richard Miller, University of Alabama at Huntsville

March 24, 2016: Did the “man in the moon” look different from ancient Earth?

New NASA-funded research provides evidence that the spin axis of Earth’s moon shifted by about five degrees roughly three billion years ago. The evidence of this motion is recorded in the distribution of ancient lunar ice, evidence of delivery of water to the early solar system.

“The same face of the moon has not always pointed towards Earth,” said Matthew Siegler of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, lead author of a paper in today’s journal Nature. “As the axis moved, so did the face of the ‘man in the moon.’ He sort of turned his nose up at the Earth.”

This interdisciplinary research was conducted across multiple institutions as part of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California.

Water ice can exist on Earth’s moon in areas of permanent shadow. If ice on the moon is exposed to direct sunlight it evaporates into space. Authors of the Nature article show evidence that a shift of the lunar spin axis billions of years ago enabled sunlight to creep into areas that were once shadowed and likely previously contained ice.

The researchers found that the ice that survived this shift effectively “paints” a path along which the axis moved. They matched the path with models predicting where the ice could remain stable and inferred the moon’s axis had moved by approximately five degrees. This is the first physical evidence that the moon underwent such a dramatic change in orientation and implies that much of the polar ice on the moon is billions of years old.

“The new findings are a compelling view of the moon’s dynamic past,” said Dr. Yvonne Pendleton, director of SSERVI, which supports lunar and planetary science research to advance human exploration of the solar system through scientific discovery. “It is wonderful to see the results of several missions pointing to these insights.”

The authors analyzed data from several NASA missions, including Lunar Prospector, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), Lunar Crater and Observation Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), and the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), to build the case for a change in the moon’s orientation. Topography from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) and thermal measurements from the Diviner lunar radiometer – both on LRO – are used to aid the interpretation of Lunar Prospector neutron data that support the polar wander hypothesis.

Siegler noticed that the distribution of ice observed at each of the lunar poles appeared to be more related to each other than previously thought. Upon further investigation, Siegler – and co-author Richard Miller of the University of Alabama at Huntsville – discovered that ice concentrations were displaced from each pole by the same distance, but in exactly opposite directions, suggesting the spin axis in the past was tilted from what we see today. A change in the tilt means that some of the ice deposited long ago has since evaporated as it was exposed to sunlight, but those areas that remain in permanent shadow between the old orientation and the new one retain their ice, and thus indicate what happened.














A cross-section through the Moon, highlighting the antipodal nature of lunar polar volatiles (in purple), and how they trace an ancient spin pole. The reorientation from that ancient spin pole (red arrow) to the present-day spin pole (blue arrow) was driven by the formation and evolution of the Procellarum—a region on the nearside of the Moon associated with a high abundance of radiogenic heat producing elements (green), high heat flow, and ancient volcanic activity. Credits: James Tuttle Keane, University of Arizona

A planetary body can shift on its axis when there is a very large change in mass distribution. Co-author James Keane, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, modelled the way changes in the lunar interior would have affected the moon’s spin and tilt. In doing so, he found the Procellarum region on the lunar near-side was the only feature that could match the direction and amount of change in the axis indicated by the ice distributions near the poles. Furthermore, concentrations of radioactive material in the Procellarum region are sufficient to have heated a portion of the lunar mantle, causing a density change significant enough to reorient the moon.

Some of this heated mantle material melted and came to the surface to form the visible dark patches that fill large lunar basins known as mare. It’s these mare patches that give the man in the moon his “face.”

Siegler, Miller, and co-author David Lawrence of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland are part of the Volatiles, Regolith and Thermal Investigations Consortium for Exploration and Science team, one of nine teams funded by SSERVI.

Said Siegler, “These findings may open the door to further discoveries on the interior evolution of the moon, as well as the origin of water on the moon and early Earth.”

For more information about SSERVI and the finding, visit. For more information about NASA’s Ames Research Center, visit

Kimberly Williams: Ames Research Center: 650-604-2457:

( Editor: Kimberly Williams: NASA)


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The Moon Entering Earth's Shadow on the Island of Cyprus in 2015

This was the Astronomy Picture of the Day on 2015 October 9, 2015: Image Credit & Copyright: Thodoris Tzalavras

On September 27/28, from all over the planet's nightside moon watchers enjoyed a total lunar eclipse.

The dramatic celestial spectacle was widely imaged, but this lunar eclipse picture may look a little strange and unfamiliar, made with a point and shoot camera of a bygone era. Loaded with a 4x5 inch sheet of film, the Speed Graphic camera was fixed to a tripod on the Island of Cyprus.

Its shutter locked open for 90 minutes, it recorded the trail of the Full Moon at perigee from the beginning of the partial eclipse phase (top) until mid-totality found the Moon near the western horizon. Entering Earth's shadow, the Moon grew dimmer and its moontrail narrower as the eclipse progressed.


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The Lunar Eclipse Over the Acropolis June 15, 2011

Image Credit & Copyright: Elias Politis

Explanation: The total phase of the June 15 lunar eclipse, 2011 lasted an impressive 100 minutes. Its entire duration is covered in this composite of a regular sequence of digital camera exposures, tracking the dark lunar disk as it arced above the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. In fact, around 270 BCE Greek astronomer Aristarchus also tracked the duration of lunar eclipses, though without the benefit of digital clocks and cameras. Still, using geometry, he devised a simple and impressively accurate way to calculate the Moon's distance, in terms of the radius of planet Earth, from the eclipse duration. A more modern Greek astronomer, Elias Politis titled this eclipse duration study and the accompanying youtube timelapse video "Acropoclipse"


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The Moon Village: ESA Director General Jan Woerner Speaks With Euronews About Setting up the First Permanent Base Station on the Moon

Image: Euronews Video-capture

Jan Woerner, Director General of the European Space Agency, has a bold new vision for space exploration. "My intention is to build up a permanent base station on the Moon." he tells Euronews from the agency's main control room in Darmstadt. "Meaning that it’s an open station, for different member states, for different states around the globe."

Humankind has never had a permanent lunar presence, and so this new vision, that Woerner likes to call the 'Moon village', would represent a giant leap in space exploration.

Watch the video  


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A Little Lunar Selenography

SMART-1 views a cluster of the Moon’s craters: Released 15/02/2016 10:45 am: Copyright ESA/SMART-1/AMIE camera team/Space Exploration Institute

This image shows a crater-filled region in the northeastern part of the Moon. Several features are visible here, including, to the left of the frame, the small Keldysh crater peeking into view. Below and to the right of Keldysh is the small depression of Hercules F, which sits to the left of the faint and eroded rim of Atlas E. The largest and most prominent feature, visible towards the top right of the frame, is Atlas crater.

Atlas is a couple of kilometres deep and nearly 90 km in diameter, with an outline that is slightly more polygonal than circular. The crater floor is peppered with hills, rifts and fractures that surround a clearly visible central mountain (seen casting a shadow). Some of the crater’s features are thought to have been influenced or shaped by volcanism – most prominently, the branching web of deep fissures and cracks stretching throughout the crater, known as Rimae Atlas.

Just below Atlas, out of frame, lies the Hercules crater, the ‘parent’ of Hercules F. Hercules F is known as a satellite crater. Most lunar craters are satellites; one major feature is originally named, and any surrounding satellites take on the same moniker followed by a capital letter: Atlas, Atlas A, and so on. Keldysh, the leftmost crater in this frame, was originally called Hercules A before it was renamed by the International Astronomical Union in the early 1980s.

This practice, of studying, mapping and naming the features on the lunar surface is known as selenography. The Moon’s features are usually named after either mythological figures, as demonstrated by Atlas and Hercules, or in recognition of deceased scientists or explorers, as is the case with Keldysh, which is named for Soviet mathematician Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh (1911–78). Keldysh was a key figure in the Soviet space programme.

This view of the Moon was captured by SMART-1’s camera on 3 February 2006, when the craft was 2474 km above the surface. ESA’s SMART-1, short for Small Missions for Advanced Research and Technology-1, was launched on 27 September 2003. For 14 months it followed a long, spiralling trajectory around Earth towards the Moon as it tested new technologies, including solar electric propulsion. It orbited the Moon from 15 November 2004 until 3 September 2006, when it was intentionally sent crashing onto the lunar surface to end its mission.


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Lunar Flashlight Selected to Fly as Secondary Payload on Exploration Mission-1

The concept image above shows Lunar Flashlight in a position over the south pole of the moon. Image: NASA

NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division recently selected the Lunar Flashlight CubeSat as a secondary payload to fly aboard the Space Launch System’s Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) flight. Lunar Flashlight, led by a team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Marshall Space Flight Center, will map the lunar south pole for volatiles and demonstrate several technological firsts, including being the first CubeSat to reach the moon, the first planetary CubeSat mission to use green propulsion, and the first mission to use lasers to look for water ice.

Locating ice deposits in the moon’s permanently shadowed craters addresses one of NASA’s Strategic Knowledge Gaps (SKGs) to detect composition, quantity, distribution, form of water/H species and other volatiles associated with lunar cold traps. The scientific and economic importance of lunar volatiles extends far beyond the question “is there water on the moon?” Volatile materials including water come from sources central to NASA’s strategic plans, including comets, asteroids, interplanetary dust particles, interstellar molecular clouds, solar wind, and lunar volcanic and radiogenic gases. The volatile inventory, distribution, and state (bound or free, evenly distributed or blocky, on the surface or at depth, etc.) are crucial for understanding how these molecules interact with the lunar surface, and for utilization potential.

The Lunar Flashlight mission spacecraft maneuvers to its lunar polar orbit and uses its near infrared lasers to shine light into the shaded polar regions, while the on-board spectrometer measures surface reflection and composition. The Lunar Flashlight 6U spacecraft has heritage elements from predecessor systems including JPL’s INSPIRE and JPL’s experience with imaging spectrometers, including the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3). The mission will demonstrate a path where 6U CubeSats could, at dramatically lower cost than previously thought possible, explore, locate and estimate size and composition of ice deposits on the moon. It is a game-changing capability for expanded human exploration, planetary science, heliophysics, and other relevant instrument applications.

Polar volatile data collected by Lunar Flashlight could then ensure that future exploration targets for more expensive lander- and rover-borne measurements would include volatiles in sufficient quantity and near enough to the surface to potentially be operationally useful.

( Editor: Erin Mahoney: NASA)


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Stuart Roosa's 'Moon Trees' Stand as a Monument to Apollo

By Bob Granath: NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Stuart Roosa, in the photo on the left, was the command module pilot for Apollo 14. The sycamore "Moon Tree,“ on the right, grows at the Cradle of Forestry educational site located in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, North Carolina. The facility provides a look back at the history of America’s first school of forestry. Credits: Left image: NASA, Right image: NASA/Bob Granath

When Apollo 14 command module pilot Stuart Roosa flew to the moon in 1971, he took along an unusual payload: tree seeds.

A native of Durango, Colorado, Roosa worked for the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1950's as a smoke jumper helping fight fires. He later joined the U.S. Air Force, becoming a test pilot. In 1966, Roosa was one of 19 selected as NASA astronauts.

For the sixth mission to the moon and the third to land, Roosa packed small containers in his personal preference kit with 500 tree seeds, part of a joint NASA-U.S. Forest Service project. Seeds were chosen from five different types of trees: Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood and Douglas Fir. The seeds were classified and sorted, and control seeds were kept on Earth for later comparison to those that had been exposed to the microgravity environment of space.

While mission commander Alan Shepard and lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell landed on the moon, Roosa remained aboard the command module, Kitty Hawk, photographing the lunar surface, including future landing sites.

After return to Earth, the seeds were germinated. Known as "Moon Trees," the resulting seedlings were planted throughout the United States, many as part of the nation's 1976 bicentennial celebration, and around the world.

After Apollo, Roosa worked on the Space Shuttle Program until his retirement from NASA and the Air Force in 1976, the time when many of his trees were being planted.

Roosa died in December 1994. The Moon Trees continue to flourish, a living monument to America's first visits to the moon and a fitting memorial to Stuart Roosa.

( Editor: Bob Granath: NASA)


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Apollo Astronaut Edgar Mitchell Dies at Age 85

Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, Apollo 14 lunar module pilot stands by the deployed U.S. flag on the lunar surface during the early moments of the mission's first spacewalk. He was photographed by astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr., mission commander. While astronauts Shepard and Mitchell descended in the Lunar Module "Antares" to explore the Fra Mauro region of the moon, astronaut Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Module "Kitty Hawk" in lunar orbit.
Credits: NASA


Feb. 5, 2016: Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, lunar module pilot on Apollo 14, passed away Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla., on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing.

Mitchell joined Apollo 14 commander Alan Shephard, Jr., the first American in space, in the lunar module Antares, which touched down Feb. 5, 1971, in the Fra Mauro highlands. Shepard and Mitchell were assigned to traverse the lunar surface to deploy scientific instruments and perform a communications test on the surface, as well as photograph the lunar surface and any deep space phenomena. It was Mitchell’s only spaceflight.

Mitchell and Shephard set mission records for the time of the longest distance traversed on the lunar surface; the largest payload returned from lunar surface; and the longest lunar stay time (33 hours). They were also the first to transmit color TV from the lunar surface. Mitchell helped collect 94 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples that were distributed across 187 scientific teams in the United States and 14 other countries for analysis.

Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell in front of a graphic of the mission patch.
Credits: NASA

"On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my condolences to the family and friends of NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "As a member of the Apollo 14 crew, Edgar is one of only 12 men to walk on the moon and he helped to change how we view our place in the universe. "

Mitchell was drawn to the spaceflight by President Kennedy's call to send astronauts to the moon. "After Kennedy announced the moon program, that's what I wanted, because it was the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see, and what could you learn, and I've been devoted to that, to exploration, education, and discovery since my earliest years, and that's what kept me going," Mitchell said in 1997 interview for NASA's oral history program.

"To me, that (spaceflight) was the culmination of my being, and what can I learn from this? What is it we are learning? That's important, because I think what we're trying to do is discover ourselves and our place in the cosmos, and we don't know. We're still looking for that."

In his book "The Way of the Explorer", Mitchell wrote, "There was a sense that our presence as space travelers, and the existence of the universe itself, was not accidental but that there was an intelligent process at work.”

Mitchell retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy and founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1973, organized to sponsor research in the nature of consciousness. In 1984, he co-founded the Association of Space Explorers, and international organization for all who “share experience of space travel.” The mission of this organization is to provide a new understanding of the human condition resulting from the epoch of space exploration.

Edgar D. Mitchell was born Sept. 17, 1930 in Hereford, Texas, and considered Artesia, N.M., his hometown. He graduated with a B.S. in Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon in 1952, a B.S. in Aeronautics from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1961 and a Doctorate in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964. NASA selected Mitchell as an astronaut in 1966. He served on the support crew for Apollo 9 and as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 10. He worked in the lunar module simulator at the Johnson Space Center during Apollo 13, developing procedures that would bring the crew of that crippled spacecraft home.

NASA images of Edgar Mitchell

NASA Oral History Project interview with Edgar Mitchell.

(Editor: Brian Dunbar: NASA)


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Sunrise on the Moon

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University


On June 10, 2011, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter angled its orbit 65° to the west, allowing the spacecraft's cameras to capture a dramatic sunrise view of the moon's Tycho crater.

A very popular target with amateur astronomers, Tycho is located at 43.37°S, 348.68°E, and is about 51 miles, 82 km, in diameter. The summit of the central peak is 01.24 miles, 02 km,  above the crater floor. The distance from Tycho's floor to its rim is about 02.92 miles, 04.7 km.

Tycho crater's central peak complex, shown here, is about 9.3 miles, 15 km, wide, left to right, southeast to northwest in this view.

: Editor: NASA Administrator: 


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NASA's Orion Readying for the Lunar Mission

Engineers Mark Completion of Orion’s Pressure Vessel:

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is another step closer to launching on its first mission to deep space atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. On Jan. 13, technicians at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans finished welding together the primary structure of the Orion spacecraft destined for deep space, marking another important step on the journey to Mars.

“We’ve started off the year with an key step in our process to get ready for Exploration Mission-1, when together Orion and SLS will travel farther than a spacecraft built for humans has ever traveled,” said Mike Sarafin, Exploration Mission-1 manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This brings us closer to our goal of testing our deep space exploration systems in the proving ground of lunar space before we begin sending astronauts days to weeks from Earth.”

Welding Orion’s seven large aluminum pieces, which began in September 2015, involved a meticulous process. Engineers prepared and outfitted each element with strain gauges and wiring to monitor the metal during the process. The pieces were joined using a state-of-the-art process called friction-stir welding, which produces incredibly strong bonds by transforming metals from a solid into a plastic-like state, and then using a rotating pin tool to soften, stir and forge a bond between two metal components to form a uniform welded joint, a vital requirement of next-generation space hardware.

“The team at Michoud has worked incredibly hard produce a lightweight, yet incredibly durable Orion structure ready for its mission thousands of miles beyond the moon,” said Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager. “The work to get us to this point has been essential. Orion’s pressure vessel is the foundation on which all of the spacecraft’s systems and subsystems are going to be built and integrated.”

The pressure vessel provides a sealed environment for astronaut life support in future human-rated crew modules. After final checkouts, technicians will prepare the pressure vessel for shipment to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the agency’s Super Guppy aircraft. At Kennedy, it will undergo several tests to ensure the structure is sound before being integrated with other elements of the spacecraft.

The uncrewed Exploration Mission-1 will pave the way for future missions with astronauts. During the flight, in which SLS and Orion will launch from NASA’s modernized spaceport at Kennedy, the spacecraft will venture to a distant retrograde orbit around the moon. This first exploration mission will allow NASA to use the lunar vicinity as a proving ground to test technologies farther from Earth, and demonstrate it can get to a stable orbit near the moon in order to support sending humans to deep space.

( Editor: Jason Roberts: NASA)


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The Moon in the Night Sky on January 22

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The Lake Eden Eye





The Window of the Heavens Always Open and Calling: All We Have to Do Is: To Choose to Be Open, Listen and Respond




Imagine a Rose-Boat

Imagine a rose floating like a tiny little boat on this ocean of infinity
And raise your soul-sail on this wee-little boat and go seeking out
All along feed on nothing but the light that you gather only light
Fear shall never fathom you nor greed can tempt nor illusion divert
For Love you are by name by deeds you are love's working-map



Only in the transparent pool of knowledge, chiselled out by the sharp incision of wisdom, is seen the true face of what truth is: That what  beauty paints, that what music sings, that what love makes into a magic. And it is life: a momentary magnificence, a-bloom like a bubble's miniscule exposition, against the spread of this awe-inspiring composition of the the Universe. Only through the path of seeking, learning, asking and developing, only through the vehicles and vesicles of knowledge, only through listening to the endless springs flowing beneath, outside, around and beyond our reach, of wisdom, we find the infinite ocean of love which is boundless, eternal, and being infinite, it makes us, shapes us and frees us onto the miracle of infinite liberty: without border, limitation or end. There is nothing better, larger or deeper that humanity can ever be than to simply be and do love. The Humanion


Poets' Letter Magazine Archive Poetry Pearl

About The Humanion The Humanion Team Home Contact Submission Guidelines
The Humanion Online Daily from the United Kingdom for the World: To Inspire Souls to Seek

At Home in the Universe : One Without Frontier. Editor: Munayem Mayenin

All copyrights @ The Humanion: London: England: United Kingdom: Contact Address: editor at thehumanion dot com

First Published: September 24: 2015