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26 January 2009

Chandrayaan-1 Takes First X-Rays of the Moon

The C1XS X-ray camera, jointly developed by the UK's STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has successfully detected its first X-ray signature from the Moon.

Credit: RAL/Brunel

The C1XS camera is a Compact Imaging X-ray Spectrometer that uses x-rays to map the composition of the lunar surface and in doing so, will offer up clues as to the origin of the Moon. The C1XS X-ray spectrometer was constructed at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, in collaboration with colleagues at ISRO, who designed and constructed the main Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe. The instrument is a technology development of the D-C1XS instrument which successfully conducted science operations at the Moon aboard ESA's SMART-1 mission between 2003 to 2006.

C1XS will provide high resolution coverage of the lunar surface in X-rays, and will provide an absolute measurement of the elemental abundances of the rock forming elements Mg, Al and Si under normal solar conditions and several other elements during solar flare events. This first measurement was three minutes of observation taken in the vicinity of the Apollo landing sites during a solar flare. The is measurement is also noteworthy because C1XS collected data from a source that was reportedly 20 times below its minimum effective detection threshold.

Geochemical data will allow for advances in several areas of lunar science, including a detailed study of the nature of the crust. In combination with information to be obtained by the other instruments on Chandrayaan-1 and the data already provided by the Smart-1, Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions, this information will provide a more detailed look at some of the fundamental questions that remain regarding the origin and evolution of the Moon.

Credit: ISRO

From: Space Daily

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23 January 2009

Carnival of Space #87 is live.

Of interest is this summary of the recent confirmation of the existence of methane on Mars and what it means to the search for extraterrestrial life.

Even more intriguing is the theory being put forward about the holographic properties of the universe. I don't completely understand it, but it reminds me of something I've seen in sci-fi: One spot in normal space corresponds to another spot in hyperspace, except the distances are shorter in hyperspace. It'll be interesting if this pans out.

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21 January 2009

Lunar rover

Though I missed it live on TV, I understand NASA's new lunar rover made an appearance during the parade. Take a look at those tweels. They were tested here.

NASA's Chariot rover was showing off its 360 degree steering ability for the President and VP. As seen here, the Chariot is in its Small Pressurized Rover configuration. The SPR allows the astronauts to explore the lunar surface without having to wear a full spacesuit.

Here is a link to a video of the Chariot in action.

The Chariot consists of the Mobility chassis and the removable SPR cabin unit. Chariot gives astronauts three options for riding. Without the SPR in suits in rotating turrets is probably the option the system got its name from - Chariot. The next option is to ride without suits inside the SPR - car mode. The final option is a combination of both - the SPR is mounted to the chassis, and astronauts ride in a turret - ideal for transporting large, unstable loads.

The suits are intergated into airlocks called suitports the allow quick ingress/egress with a minimum of air waste.

Chariot masses 1000 kg and has a top speed of 10 kph. It can carry a payload of 3000 kg, which matches the weight of the SPR. It's 4.5 m long, 1.3 m high and has a 4 m wheelbase. The SPR gives Chariot a potential range of 240 km, compared to 10 km for Apollo's rover. In addition, the suitport airlock is rated for 72 hours storm shelter protection from a solar particle event, or solar flare. The lock is lined with 2.5 cm of water ice, one of the best natural radiation shields known.

Download Small Pressurized Rover Fact Sheet (3.7 MB PDF)

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13 January 2009

SpaceX's Falcon 9 on the Pad

SpaceX has completed integration of their Falcon 9 vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral and have raised it to a vertical position in preparation for a demonstration flight. See pictures below.

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