NASA on Tuesday delayed putting astronauts back on the moon until 2025 at the earliest, missing the deadline set by the Trump administration.
The space agency had been aiming for 2024 for the first moon landing by astronauts in a half-century.
In announcing the delay, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Congress did not provide enough money to develop a landing system for its Artemis moon program and more money is needed for its Orion capsule. In addition, a legal challenge by Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, stalled work for months on the Starship lunar landing system under development by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Officials said technology for new spacesuits also needs to ramp up before astronauts can return to the moon.
NASA is still targeting next February for the first test flight of its moon rocket, the Space Launch System, or SLS, with an Orion capsule. No one will be on board. Instead, astronauts will strap in for the second Artemis flight, flying beyond the moon but not landing, in 2024, a year later than planned. That would bump the moon landing to at least 2025, according to Nelson.
“The human landing system is a crucial part of our work to get the first woman and the first person of colour to the lunar surface, and we are getting geared up to go,” Nelson told reporters. “NASA is committed to help restore America’s standing in the world.”
Nelson made note of China’s ambitious and aggressive space program, and warned it could overtake the U.S. in lunar exploration.
NASA’s last moon landing by astronauts occurred during Apollo 17 in 1972. Altogether, 12 men explored the lunar surface.
During a National Space Council meeting in 2019, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence called for landing astronauts on the moon within five years “by any means necessary.” NASA had been shooting for a lunar landing in 2028, and pushing it up by four years was considered at the time exceedingly ambitious, if not improbable.
NASA wants more money for Orion capsules
Congress will need to increase funding, beginning with the 2023 budget, in order for NASA to have private companies competing for the planned 10 or more moon landings by astronauts, Nelson said.
The space agency also is requesting a bigger budget for its Orion capsules, from $6.7 billion US to $9.3 billion, citing delays during the coronavirus pandemic and storm damage to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, the main manufacturing site for SLS and Orion. Development costs for the rocket through the first Artemis flight next year stand at $11 billion.
Vice-President Kamala Harris will convene her first National Space Council meeting, as its chair, on Dec. 1. Nelson said he updated her on the latest schedule and costs during their visit to Maryland’s Goddard Space Flight Center on Friday.
Chinese rover investigates 'cube' on far side of the moon – CBC News
A photograph of a cube-like object captured by a Chinese rover on the far side of the moon has fanned speculation over what it could be.
The Yutu-2 caught an image of what seems like a large cubic object on the horizon about 80 metres from its location, said Our Space, a Chinese government science website, citing the rover’s last log on Dec. 3.
The solar-powered Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit” in Chinese, will cover the distance of 80 metres in two to three lunar days, according to Our Space, or two to three Earth months. The robotic rover has been operating in the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin since its deployment in January 2019.
The mission was a historic first, with no other nation having landed on the far side of the moon until then. With the moon tidally locked to Earth — rotating at the same speed as it orbits our planet — most of its “dark side” is never visible to those on Earth.
Comet Leonard will be visible this December before vanishing forever – CTV News
There is a new comet in town, and December is your only chance to see it before disappears forever. Astronomers say that Comet Leonard is our best and brightest comet to see in 2021.
The comet was first discovered in January by astronomer Greg Leonard. The celestial object has likely spent the last 35,000 years traveling toward the sun, according to Sky & Telescope, and once it makes a close pass of our star on January 3, we won’t be seeing the comet again.
As the comet nears the sun, it brightens, which is why the weeks leading up to this event make the comet easier to see.
It’s also an ultrafast comet, blazing through the inner solar system at 158,084 miles per hour (71 kilometres per second), but it will still appear like a slow-moving object due to its distance from Earth, according to EarthSky.
Comet Leonard will make it closest approach to Earth on December 12, coming within 21 million miles (34 million kilometres) of our planet. Then, it will sweep by Venus on December 18.
The comet will be visible in the skies of both the Northern and Southern hemispheres this month.
It’s difficult to predict how well we may be able to see a comet, but you”ll probably need binoculars to spot this one, according to NASA. Keep an eye out for an object that looks like a fuzzy star.
“In the first couple of weeks of December, Comet Leonard can be found in the east before sunrise, passing between Arcturus and the handle of the Big Dipper,” the agency shared in a post.
“It approaches the horizon right around the time of its closest approach to Earth, meaning it’ll likely be brighter but more challenging to observe. It then switches over to being an evening object after around Dec. 14th, for just a little while after the Sun sets — as it begins its long haul outward from the Sun again, progressively fading in brightness.”
As comets near the sun, these giant iceballs begin to shed some of their material, which forms a halo, or coma, around the object.
Dust and gas stream behind comets to form their extremely long tails. Most comets originate from the icy edge of our solar system and only become visible to us as they travel through the inner solar system, where Earth is located, during their long orbits of the sun.
It’s possible that Comet Leonard will be visible to skywatchers looking with the naked eye, but if you’re worried about missing this once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience, The Virtual Telescope Project will be sharing a livestream from its observatory in Rome.
Hubble Captures Stunning Image of Colliding Gases in 'Running Man' Nebula – Gadgets 360
Hubble Space Telescope has often captured stunning images of mysterious events in space. It has allowed astronomers to widen their research and uncover new details. Recently, the telescope was trying to understand how young stars influenced their environment and it witnessed a shock wave of colliding luminous gases in the ‘Running Man’ Nebula. The image of the Herbig-Haro object, known as HH 45, showed clouds of gas and dust glow. Herbig-Haro is a type of nebula that forms when gas from a newborn star collides with dust around it at huge speeds and produces shock waves.
Herbig-Haro objects are rarely seen. This object is located in the nebula NGC 1977, also called the Running Man Nebula, which is a complex structure of three nebulae in the Great Orion Nebula, about 5,000 light-years from the Earth.
The Running Man Nebula is a reflection nebula, meaning it does not emit light on its own but reflects light from nearby stars “like a streetlight illuminating fog,” according to NASA. Hubble was looking at this region for “stellar jets and planet-forming disks around young stars.” It was trying to examine how their environment affects the evolution of such disks.
The Hubble image showed two sets of ionised gases glowing in blue and purple colours. While blue indicated ionised oxygen, purple represented ionised magnesium. “Researchers were particularly interested in these elements because they could be used to identify shocks and ionisation fronts,” the NASA statement read.
This image was not a bad capture for an observatory that was waking up after a technical problem and went into “safe mode” in October. Hubble, a joint project by NASA and ESA, was last serviced in person in 2009 and has not been visited by astronauts since 2011.
NASA is set to launch the more powerful James Webb telescope in December as a “successor” to the Hubble Space Telescope. Citing the differences between the both, NASA has stated that their capabilities weren’t identical. One of the differences NASA pointed out was that while James Webb telescope will study the universe largely in infrared, Hubble had been focusing on optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
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