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NASA Plans For Science Payloads For Delivery to Moon

NASA believes that the work it does on the Moon in the coming years would help it send a series of crewed missions to Mars, scheduled to start in the 2030s

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NASA to use Blockchain technology for air traffic management. Pixabay

In line with its plan to conduct more research on the Moon’s surface ahead of a human return, NASA has issued a call for science instruments and technology payloads that will fly on commercial lunar landers as early as next year or 2020.

This call is specifically geared towards small payloads that can be ready for early commercial flights, NASA said in a statement on Thursday, adding that future calls for lunar payloads will occur at regular intervals for later missions, with the next call released in approximately one year.

The initial proposal deadline is November 19, 2018, the US space agency added.

“We are looking for ways to not only conduct lunar science but to also use the Moon as a science platform to look back at the Earth, observe the Sun, or view the vast Universe,” said Steve Clarke, Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA.

“In terms of technology, we are interested in those instruments or systems that will help future missions — both human and robotic — explore the Moon and feed forward to future Mars missions,” Clarke added.

On early missions, science instruments will likely gather data related to heat flow within the Moon’s interior, solar wind and atmosphere as well as dust detection.

NASA
The initial proposal deadline is November 19, 2018, the US space agency added. Flickr

Lander payloads could also conduct technology demonstrations, using the Moon as a technology testbed for Mars.

“The strategy is that these early missions will help us prepare for more complex future missions such as searching for usable resources, building up a seismic network to understand the Moon’s internal structure, and studying the lunar mineralogy and chemistry to understand the Moon’s origins,” Clarke said.

The US space agency is implementing a plan for Americans to orbit the Moon starting in 2023, and land astronauts on the surface no later than the late 2020s.

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A key component of establishing the first permanent American presence and infrastructure on and around the Moon is the Gateway, a lunar orbiting platform to host astronauts farther from Earth than ever before.

NASA believes that the work it does on the Moon in the coming years would help it send a series of crewed missions to Mars, scheduled to start in the 2030s. (IANS)

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Trump Increases NASA Spending by $1.6 Billion With Goal of Returning to Moon

"I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!"

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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to employees about the agency's progress toward sending astronauts to the moon and on to Mars during a televised event, Monday, March 11, 2019. VOA

The Trump administration asked Congress on Monday to increase NASA spending next year by an extra $1.6 billion to accommodate the accelerated goal of returning Americans to the surface of the moon by 2024.

The increased funding request, announced by President Donald Trump on Twitter, comes nearly two months after Vice President Mike Pence declared the objective of shortening by four years NASA’s timeline for putting astronauts back on the moon for the first time since 1972.

The proposed increase would bring NASA’s total spending level for the 2020 fiscal year to $22.6 billion. The bulk of the increase is earmarked for research and development for a human lunar landing system, according to a summary provided by NASA.

NASA
“I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”, says Trump. Pixabay

“Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars,” Trump tweeted late on Monday. “I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” NASA had previously aimed to return crewed spacecraft to the lunar surface by the year 2028, after first putting a “Gateway” station into orbit around the moon by 2024.

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The newly accelerated goal – an endeavor likely to cost tens of billions of dollars – comes as NASA has struggled with the help of private partners to resume human space missions from U.S. soil for the first time since the shuttle program ended in 2011.

The U.S. Apollo program, NASA’s forerunner to the effort at returning humans to Earth’s natural satellite, tallied six manned missions to the moon from 1969 to 1972. So far, only two other nations have conducted controlled “soft” landings on the moon – the former Soviet Union and China. But those were with unmanned robot vehicles. (VOA)