Moon

Science • Space
Microbes could mine valuable elements from rocks on the moon or Mars
Sphingomonas desiccabilis, the bacterium capable of “biomining” rare-earth elements from basalt rock.
Sphingomonas desiccabilis, the bacterium capable of “biomining” rare-earth elements from basalt rock. Credit: Rosa Santomartino

Recent experiments aboard the International Space Station have shown that some microbes can harvest valuable rare-earth elements from rocks, even when exposed to microgravity conditions. Microorganisms are already used on Earth to mine economically important elements from rocks, including rare earth elements, used in mobile phones and electronics.

It's unlikely to be economically viable to mine these elements in space and bring them back to Earth, according to Charles Cockell, a professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics and Astronomy, who led the project.

Science • Space
Nokia will establish mobile network on moon by 2022
Nokia will establish mobile network on moon by 2022
Credit: unsplash.com / NASA

The Finnish company Nokia has announced that they have been awarded a contract by Nasa to build a mobile network on the moon. Initially it will be based on the 4G/LTE technology and later upgraded to 5G.

The network will serve as a foundation for astronauts to make phone calls and send data. Ground stations on Earth will also be able to control devices and vehicles remotely.

Science • Space
NASA's Artemis Accords to guide moon exploration signed by eight nations
NASA's Artemis Accords to guide moon exploration signed by eight nations
Credit: NASA

Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America have signed on as founding member nations to NASA's Artemis Accords, an international agreement that "will help to avoid conflict in space and on Earth by strengthening mutual understanding and reducing misperceptions."

"Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition," so NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "With today's signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy."

Science • Space
Artemis mission: NASA pledges to land first woman on moon by 2024
@NASA_Astronauts  are preparing now for moonwalks planned for when we land the first woman and next man on the Moon -- and they're practicing underwater to evaluate how we'll train for #Artemis missions.
@NASA_Astronauts are preparing now for moonwalks planned for when we land the first woman and next man on the Moon -- and they're practicing underwater to evaluate how we'll train for #Artemis missions. Credit: @NASA_Johnson, via Twitter | NASA (Public Domain)

NASA has annouced it's preparing for its second mission to Moon. Artemis, the first lunar mission since 1972, will land the first woman and the next man on the surface of the Moon in 2024.

"NASA engineers are laying the foundation for the moonwalks the first woman and next man will conduct when they land on the lunar South Pole in 2024 as part of the Artemis program. At the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are testing the tools and developing training approaches for lunar surface operations," so NASA in a statement.

Science • Space
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is scheduled for July 30th launch date
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (Public Domain)

Soon it will be "go for launch" for Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. On July 30, NASA's new Mars rover will go on its seven-month-long journey to the Red Planet. The launch had been postponed a couple of times because of technical difficulties and setbacks related to COVID-19.

Perseverance will land in Jezero Crater where it will search for "signs that microbes might have lived on Mars long ago, collect soil samples to be returned to Earth on a future mission and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon."

Science • Space
Kathy Lueders named as NASA's new head of Human Spaceflight Office
NASA’s Kathy Lueders participates in a post-launch news conference inside the Press Site auditorium at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020
NASA’s Kathy Lueders participates in a post-launch news conference inside the Press Site auditorium at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020 Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Director of NASA's Commercial Crew Program Kathy Lueders has been named as the next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who announced Lueders' promotion on Friday, spoke highly of her: "Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024."

Science • Space
Pittsburg-based Astrobotic awared US$200 million by NASA to deliver VIPER to moon
VIPER will  be tasked to prospect for natural lunar resources, especially water ice within a permanently shadowed region near the lunar south pole.
VIPER will be tasked to prospect for natural lunar resources, especially water ice within a permanently shadowed region near the lunar south pole. Credit: NASA / Public domain

VIPER is going to roam the moon soon. Today, Pittsburg-based lunar logistics service provider Astrobotic was awarded US$200 million by NASA to send the rover to the moon in 2023. VIPER, or Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, is going to explore the lunar surface, mapping its resources and looking for water ice. Under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services private companies will be paid to send payloads to the moon.

Science • Space
2020 Strawberry Moon lunar eclipse occurs today
Full moon, so called "Strawberry moon" viewed  from Tochigi prefecture, eastern Japan.
Full moon, so called "Strawberry moon" viewed from Tochigi prefecture, eastern Japan. Credit: On-chan (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Today's lunar eclipse that begins at 17:45(UTC) and lasts until 21:04(UTC) will be a "penumbral eclipse," which occurs when the outer ring of Earth's shadow just grazes the moon.

This subtle lunar eclipse will be entirely visible for observers in eastern Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and Australia. It will start at moonrise for those on the eastern coast of South America, western Africa and Europe, and at moonset for skywatchers in Japan and New Zealand.

The full moon in June is called a Strawberry Moon because it coincides with the strawberry harvest. In Europe, an old name for this full Moon is the Mead Moon or the Honey Moon.

Science • Space
Entire Surface of the Moon mapped for the first time
Orthographic projections of the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon showing the geology of the Moon’s near side (left) and far side (right
Orthographic projections of the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon showing the geology of the Moon’s near side (left) and far side (right Credit: NASA/GSFC/USGS (Public Domain)

Scientists from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center have released the first-ever comprehensive geologic map of the moon. The map called “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” completely shows the entire surface of the moon which will serve as a blueprint for future missions. The information came from six Apollo-era maps and recent satellite missions.

Science • Space
Nasa has selected three companies to determine which lunar landers will be used

With the Nasa program, named Artemis having the goal to land on the moon by 2024, the space agency has awarded three contracts to private firms in order to determine over the next ten months which solution will be used to close the distance between lunar orbit and the surface. SpaceX has been awarded $135m, Blue Origin $579m and Dynetics $253m.