Space Thread

Blackleaf

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Astronomers spot new tiny moons around Neptune and Uranus
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Christina Larson
Published Feb 23, 2024 • 1 minute read
The International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center announced Friday , Feb. 23, 2024, that astronomers have found three previously unknown moons in our solar system -- two additional moons circling Neptune and one around Uranus. (NASA via AP)
The International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center announced Friday , Feb. 23, 2024, that astronomers have found three previously unknown moons in our solar system -- two additional moons circling Neptune and one around Uranus. (NASA via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) — Astronomers have found three previously unknown moons in our solar system — two additional moons circling Neptune and one around Uranus.


The distant tiny moons were spotted using powerful land-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile, and announced Friday by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.


The latest tally puts Neptune at 16 known moons and Uranus at 28.

One of Neptune’s new moons has the longest known orbital journey yet. It takes around 27 years for the small outer moon to complete one lap around Neptune, the vast icy planet farthest from the sun, said Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington who helped make the discovery.

The new moon orbiting Uranus, with an estimated diameter of just 5 miles (8 kilometers), is likely the smallest of the planet’s moons.

“We suspect that there may be many more smaller moons” yet to be discovered, he said.

That's nothing. Just last year 62 new moons were discovered orbiting Saturn. This means Saturn now has 146 known moons.
 

spaminator

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First U.S. moon lander in half a century stops working a week after tipping over at touchdown
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Feb 29, 2024 • 1 minute read
This image obtained on Feb. 27, 2024 courtesy of Intuitive Machines, shows approximately 30 metres (98 feet) above the lunar surface before Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lunar lander lands on the south pole region of the Moon.
This image obtained on Feb. 27, 2024 courtesy of Intuitive Machines, shows approximately 30 metres (98 feet) above the lunar surface before Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lunar lander lands on the south pole region of the Moon. PHOTO BY HANDOUT/INTUITIVE MACHINES /AFP via Getty Images
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The first U.S. spacecraft to land on the moon since the Apollo astronauts fell silent Thursday, a week after breaking a leg at touchdown and tipping over near the lunar south pole.

Intuitive Machines’ lander, Odysseus, lasted longer than the company anticipated after it ended up on its side with hobbled solar power and communication.


The end came as flight controllers received one last photo from Odysseus and commanded its computer and power systems to standby. That way, the lander can wake up in another two to three weeks — if it survives the bitterly cold lunar night. Intuitive Machines spokesman Josh Marshall said these final steps drained the lander’s batteries and put Odysseus “down for a long nap.”

“Good night, Odie. We hope to hear from you again,” the company said via X, formerly Twitter.


Before losing power, Odysseus sent back what Intuitive Machines called “a fitting farewell transmission.”

Taken just before touchdown, the picture shows the bottom of the lander on the moon’s pockmarked surface, with a tiny crescent Earth and a small sun in the background.

The lander was originally intended to last about a week at the moon.

Houston-based Intuitive Machines became the first private business to land a spacecraft on the moon without crashing when Odysseus touched down Feb. 22. Only five countries had achieved that since the 1960s, including Japan, which made a sideways landing last month.

Odysseus carried six experiments for NASA, which paid $118 million for the ride. The first company to take part in NASA’s program for commercial lunar deliveries never made it to the moon; its lander came crashing back to Earth in January.

NASA views these private landers as scouts that will pave the way for astronauts due to arrive in another few years.

Until Odysseus, the last U.S. moon landing was by Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt in 1972.
Odysseus-e1709257894155[1].jpg
 

spaminator

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Third test flight of SpaceX’s mega rocket ends with loss of spacecraft
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Mar 14, 2024 • 1 minute read
SpaceX-Starship-Launch
SpaceX's mega rocket Starship launches for it's third test flight from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, Thursday, March 14, 2024. PHOTO BY ERIC GAY /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SpaceX’s mega rocket blasted off on another test flight Thursday and made it farther than two previous attempts, but the spacecraft was lost as it descended back to Earth.


The company said it lost contact with the spacecraft as it neared its goal, a splashdown in the Indian Ocean, about an hour after liftoff from the southern tip of Texas near the Mexican border.


T wo test flights last year both ended in explosions minutes after liftoff.

Starship, the biggest and most powerful rocket ever built, headed out over the Gulf of Mexico after launch Thursday. Minutes later, the booster separated seamlessly from the spaceship and splashed down into the gulf and the spacecraft continued eastward. No people or satellites were on board.

An hour later, SpaceX commentators said contact had been lost with the spacecraft.

“The ship has been lost. So no splashdown today,” said SpaceX’s Dan Huot. “But again, it’s incredible to see how much further we got this time around.”


Earlier during the flight, SpaceX’s Elon Musk had congratulated his team.”SpaceX has come a long way,” Musk said via X, former Twitter. The rocket company was founded exactly 22 years ago Thursday.

The rocket and futuristic-looking spacecraft towers 397 feet (121 meters), easily exceeding NASA’s past and present moon rockets.

NASA watched with keen interest: The space agency needs Starship to succeed in order to land astronauts on the moon in the next two or so years. This new crop of moonwalkers — the first since last century’s Apollo program — will descend to the lunar surface in a Starship, at least the first couple times.
1710912024640.png
 

spaminator

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April’s total solar eclipse promises to be the best yet for experiments
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Marcia Dunn
Published Mar 22, 2024 • 3 minute read

During the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse, the rockets will blast off with science instruments into the electrically charged portion of the atmosphere near the edge of space known as the ionosphere.
During the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse, the rockets will blast off with science instruments into the electrically charged portion of the atmosphere near the edge of space known as the ionosphere.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — April’s total solar eclipse promises to be a scientific bonanza, thanks to new spacecraft and telescopes _ and cosmic chance.


The moon will be extra close to Earth, providing a long and intense period of darkness, and the sun should be more active with the potential for dramatic bursts of plasma. Then there’s totality’s densely populated corridor stretching from Mexico to the U.S. to Canada.


Hundreds if not thousands of the tens of millions of spectators will double as “citizen scientists,” helping NASA and other research groups better understand our planet and star.

They’ll photograph the sun’s outer crownlike atmosphere, or corona, as the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blotting out sunlight for up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds on April 8. They’ll observe the quieting of birds and other animals as midday darkness falls. They’ll also measure dropping temperatures, monitor clouds and use ham radios to gauge communication disruptions.


At the same time, rockets will blast off with science instruments into the electrically charged portion of the atmosphere near the edge of space known as the ionosphere. The small rockets will soar from Wallops Island, Virginia — some 400 miles outside totality but with 81% of the sun obscured in a partial eclipse. Similar launches were conducted from New Mexico during last October’s “ring of fire” solar eclipse that swept across the western U.S. and Central and South America.

“Time for the biggie! It is pretty exciting!!!” Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Aroh Barjatya, the rockets’ mission director, said in an email.

NASA’s high-altitude jets also will take to the air again, chasing the moon’s shadow with improved telescopes to study the sun’s corona and surrounding dust.


“Dust sounds boring,” acknowledged NASA’s eclipse program manager Kelly Korreck. “But at the same time, dust is actually really interesting. Those are the leftover remnants from when the solar system was forming.”

More than 600 weather balloons will be launched by college students along the track, providing livestreams while studying atmospheric changes. Cloudy skies shouldn’t matter.

“Lucky for us, the balloons flying to 80,000 feet and above don’t care if it’s cloudy on the ground,” said Angela Des Jardins, an astrophysicist at Montana State University who’s coordinating the nationwide project.

And if the Federal Aviation Administration approves, a 21-foot (6.5-meter) kite will lift a science instrument three miles (5 kilometers) above Texas in an experiment by the University of Hawaii’s Shadia Habbal. She, too, wants to get above any clouds that might hamper her observations of the sun.


Normally hidden by the sun’s glare, the corona is on full display during a total solar eclipse, making it a prime research target. The spiky tendrils emanating thousands of miles (kilometers) into space are mystifyingly hotter than the sun’s surface — in the millions of degrees, versus thousands.

“In terms of the value of total eclipses, science still cannot explain how the corona is heated to such extreme temperatures,” said retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak, better known as Mr. Eclipse for all his charts and books on the subject.

The U.S. won’t see another total solar eclipse on this scale until 2045, so NASA and everyone else is pulling out all the stops.

April’s eclipse will begin in the Pacific and make landfall at Mazatlan, Mexico, heading up through Texas and 14 other U.S. states before crossing into Canada and exiting into the Atlantic at Newfoundland. Those outside the 115-mile-wide (185-kilometer-wide) path, will get a partial eclipse.


Scientists got a taste of what’s to come during the 2017 total solar eclipse that stretched from Oregon to South Carolina. This time, the moon is closer to Earth, resulting in more minutes of darkness and a wider path.

“Any time we can observe for longer, that gives scientists more data,” Korreck said.

Another scientific bonus this time: The sun will be just a year away from its maximum solar activity, as opposed to 2017 when it was near its minimum. That means lots more action at the sun, possibly even a coronal mass ejection during the eclipse, with massive amounts of plasma and magnetic field blasted into space.

Plus there are two new spacecraft out there studying the sun: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar Orbiter. They’ll join other spacecraft on eclipse duty, including the International Space Station and its astronauts.

Closer to home, April’s eclipse, unlike previous ones, will pass over three U.S. radar sites typically used for monitoring space weather. The stations will tune in to what’s happening in the upper atmosphere as the skies dim.
 
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spaminator

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Birds, bees and even plants might act weird during the solar eclipse
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post
Published Mar 26, 2024 • 7 minute read

Eclipse
On April 8, 2024, the sun will pull another disappearing act across parts of Mexico, the United States and Canada, turning day into night for as much as 4 minutes, 28 seconds.
A total eclipse isn’t just a spectacle in the sky. When the moon consumes the sun on April 8, day will plunge into twilight, the temperature will drop – and nature will take notice.


Reports abound of unusual animal and plant behavior during eclipses. A swarm of ants carrying food froze until the sun reemerged during an 1851 eclipse in Sweden. A pantry in Massachusetts was “greatly infested” with cockroaches just after totality in 1932. Sap flowed more slowly in a 75-year-old beech tree in Belgium in 1999. Orb-weaving spiders started tearing down their webs and North American side-blotched lizards closed their eyes during an eclipse in Mexico in 1991.


Plenty of scientists see eclipses as rare opportunities to bolster anecdotal reports by studying how nature responds – or doesn’t – to a few minutes of dusk in the middle of the day. That’s why teams across the country produced a swarm of studies about plant and animal behavior during the last total eclipse to cut across the United States in 2017.


Some of these scientists found that when the sun vanished, insects, birds and plants seemed to enter into something approaching a nocturnal pattern. Case in point: Scientists in multiple states reported that fireflies started flashing, and a team in Idaho captured two species of voles that are normally active at night.

Bat researchers in Georgia, on the other hand, weren’t convinced that the eclipse had any effect on behavior, though they noticed slightly more bat activity on the night after the eclipse than on previous or subsequent nights. Beetles flew around as normal in South Carolina.

Understanding how eclipses affect nature writ large is nearly impossible. That’s because eclipses don’t follow one of the most basic rules of science: replication. They don’t happen with regularity in the same spot. They vary in length. They happen at different times of day, during different seasons.


“A lot of the things we found in the literature were exactly that – a curiosity. It happens once every so often, so it’s curious, but not generally informative of animal behavior,” said Olav Rueppell, a scientist who studies honeybee biology at the University of Alberta in Canada.

And while an eclipse is an incredible time to observe the natural world, there’s also a potential observer effect: People who might normally be at school, at work or simply distracted are looking and listening closely, and what they see as responses to the eclipse could just be normal behaviors that escape notice on a typical day.

Adam Hartstone-Rose, a professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University, led a study of how animals reacted to the 2017 eclipse at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C.


“At any given point on Earth, a total eclipse occurs once every 375 years. So it’s not like you’re learning something now you can use again in the future, and that’s certainly true for animals,” Hartstone-Rose said.

“But it’s a unifying event. All of us have this experience together,” he said, adding that during the April eclipse, “we’re all going to be communing with animals and thinking about how they experience it.”

Studies of animal behavior during an eclipse tend to fall into two categories. Some biologists who are near the path of totality will design a study to see how the eclipse affects their favorite organism, whether it be honeybees or chimpanzees. Others try to activate members of the public to take data and make observations all across the path, which the scientists can use to discern broad patterns.


The NASA-backed Eclipse Soundscapes project, for example, will collect audio data and observations from hundreds of people during the April eclipse to repeat, with a bit more rigor, a citizen-science study of animal responses to a 1932 eclipse.

In his team’s 2017 study of zoo animals, Hartstone-Rose had researchers systematically observe 17 species, including baboons, flamingos and Galapagos tortoises.

Most responded to the eerie darkness in some way – whether by starting their bedtime routines, acting anxious or mating. Giraffes that had been munching on lettuce and chewing their cud huddled near their barn or galloped through their exhibit. A Komodo dragon that hadn’t moved in a day raced around its enclosure and climbed up the wall.


Hartstone-Rose is repeating the observations this year at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas, and he is drafting more than a thousand volunteers across the country to collect records of animal behavior through a project called Solar Eclipse Safari. He’s as interested in the anomalous behavior of animals as he is in learning how observing animals and trying to understand their experience affects humans, perhaps widening their sense of wonder and awe.

The birds
One common report is that birds go to roost and go quiet during an eclipse. But when a team of ornithologists from Cornell University made recordings along an old logging road near the town of Corinna, Maine, for the 1963 eclipse, they heard the per-chic-o-ree of a goldfinch in the middle of totality, along with a hermit thrush, a Swainson’s thrush and a veery.


“Perhaps no two lists of birds heard before, during, and after the eclipse would be anywhere near similar,” they wrote in their summary of the observations.

In the 50 minutes before and after totality in 2017, researchers monitoring flying insects and birds via the weather radar network found that the skies went eerily quiet, but there was an intriguing uptick of activity right at totality. The researchers speculated that it might be some kind of insect reacting to the sudden darkness, while the birds possibly grew still due to confusion.

“Some previous research shows that insects react much more immediately to light cues, while birds are more like, ‘What’s going on?'” said Cecilia Nilsson, a biologist at Lund University in Sweden. “Totality only lasts a few minutes, so by the time you’re figuring it out, it’s over.”


For bird lovers, the many uncontrollable variables of an eclipse can be scientific opportunities, too.

One exciting aspect of the 2024 eclipse is that it is happening during the spring, whereas the North American eclipse of 2017 took place very early in the fall migration season, Nilsson said. Many birds, she noted, migrate at night and are often more motivated during the spring migration, so it’s possible that abrupt darkness will have a different effect this time around.

The honeybees
Rueppell, the honeybee scientist, was based in North Carolina during the total eclipse in 2017. He decided with collaborators to try to bring some rigor to previous observations of honeybee behavior.

A crowdsourced compilation of observations from a 1932 total eclipse, for example, included reports of a swarm of 200 bees showing “apprehensiveness” in the minutes before totality. Another observer reported that “as darkness increased the outgoing bees diminished in numbers and the return battalions grew larger.”


Rueppell and colleagues at Clemson University in South Carolina enlisted observers to watch the entrances of hives, counting how many honeybees were exiting and how many were returning from foraging trips before, during and after totality. They made some hives hungrier than others by taking the bees’ honey away before the eclipse, to see if that changed their willingness to forage.

The researchers found that the environmental cues overrode bees’ own internal circadian clocks, with darkness causing them to return to the hive and hunker down. Those findings square with another study that found bees stopped buzzing around flowers during totality. But hives that were stressed by hunger shut down less completely than those that weren’t.


They also conducted a second experiment, putting fluorescent powder on bees and releasing them away from their hives, then measuring how quickly they returned.

Right before totality, they found the bees were returning faster, almost as if they were panicked.

The forests full of trees
Daniel Beverly, a plant ecophysiologist at Indiana University, studied how sagebrush in Wyoming reacted during the 2017 eclipse. A total eclipse last passed over Wyoming in 1918, though it traversed different parts of the state.

“These plants are 60 to 100 years old, and they’ve never seen this midday darkness,” he said. The scientists found that photosynthesis plummeted during totality, then took hours to recover from the shock of the sun reemerging minutes later.


This year Beverly will be measuring ecological responses to the eclipse at a forest in Indiana that is part of a long-term project monitoring carbon, water and energy flux through the ecosystem. Because the Morgan-Monroe State Forest is already the subject of intense scientific scrutiny, scientists can take advantage of existing instruments to measure factors such as carbon flux and water movement in white oak, tulip poplars, sassafras and sugar maples.

Beverly noted that he’s excited to get as much of the data collection automated as possible so he and his team can fully appreciate the brief but wondrous moment of totality.

“It is pretty awesome and life-changing,” Beverly said. “Just the spectacle of it. I don’t know what it does to the human brain.”
 

spaminator

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Looking at solar eclipse dangerous without eclipse glasses. Here’s what to know
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Adithi Ramakrishnan
Published Mar 27, 2024 • 3 minute read

Solar eclipse glasses
With a solar eclipse anticipated in a month, NASA warns that not all solar eclipse viewing glasses are safe.
DALLAS — Millions of people along a narrow band in North America will look up when the sky darkens during a total solar eclipse on April 8.


When they do, safety is key.


Staring directly at the sun during a solar eclipse or at any other time can lead to permanent eye damage. The eclipse is only safe to witness with the naked eye during totality, or the period of total darkness when the moon completely covers the sun.

Those eager to experience the eclipse should buy eclipse glasses from a reputable vendor. Sunglasses are not protective enough, and binoculars and telescopes without a proper solar filter can magnify light from the sun, making them unsafe.

“Please, please put those glasses on,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.

Where to find eclipse glasses
Since counterfeit glasses abound, consider purchasing glasses from a local science museum or order online from a seller cleared on the American Astronomical Society’s website.


Eclipse safety experts say legitimate eclipse glasses should block out ultraviolet light from the sun and nearly all visible light. When worn indoors, only very bright lights should be faintly visible — not household furniture or wallpaper.

Old eclipse glasses from the 2017 total solar eclipse or October’s “ring of fire” annular eclipse are safe to reuse, as long as they aren’t warped and don’t have scratches or holes.

Glasses should say they comply with ISO 12312-2 standards, though fake suppliers can also print this language on their products. NASA does not approve or certify eclipse glasses.

How to view the eclipse without glasses
If you don’t have eclipse glasses, you can still enjoy the spectacle through indirect ways such as making a pinhole projector using household materials.


Poke a hole through a piece of cardstock or cardboard, hold it up during the eclipse and look down to see a partial crescent projected below. Holding up a colander or a cracker will produce a similar effect.

Another trick: Peering at the ground under a shady tree can yield crescent shadows as the sunlight filters through branches and leaves.

Eye experts warn against viewing the eclipse through a phone camera. The sun’s bright rays can also damage a phone’s digital components.

Why looking at a solar eclipse is dangerous
Eye damage can occur without proper protection. The sun’s bright rays can burn cells in the retina at the back of the eye. The retina doesn’t have pain receptors, so there’s no way to feel the damage as it happens. Once the cells die, they don’t come back.


Symptoms of solar eye damage, called solar retinopathy, include blurred vision and colour distortion.

In a rare case of eclipse eye damage, a woman who viewed the 2017 eclipse without adequate protection came to Mount Sinai’s New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, complaining of a black spot in her vision. Doctors discovered retinal damage that corresponded to the eclipse’s shape.

“The dark spot she was describing was in the shape of a crescent,” said Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, a Mount Sinai ophthalmologist.

There’s no set rule for how long of a glance can lead to permanent damage. Severity varies based on cloudiness, air pollution and a person’s vantage point.

But doctors say looking at a solar eclipse for even a few seconds unprotected isn’t worth the risk. There are reports of solar retinopathy after every solar eclipse, and U.S. eye doctors saw dozens of extra visits after the one in 2017.

Spectators who plan ahead can secure a stress-free eclipse viewing experience.

“It can be dangerous if we aren’t careful, but it’s also very safe if we take the basic precautions,” said Dr. Geoffrey Emerson, a board member of the American Society for Retina Specialists.
 

Blackleaf

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Oct 9, 2004
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Looking at solar eclipse dangerous without eclipse glasses. Here’s what to know
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Adithi Ramakrishnan
Published Mar 27, 2024 • 3 minute read

Solar eclipse glasses
With a solar eclipse anticipated in a month, NASA warns that not all solar eclipse viewing glasses are safe.
DALLAS — Millions of people along a narrow band in North America will look up when the sky darkens during a total solar eclipse on April 8.


When they do, safety is key.


Staring directly at the sun during a solar eclipse or at any other time can lead to permanent eye damage. The eclipse is only safe to witness with the naked eye during totality, or the period of total darkness when the moon completely covers the sun.

Those eager to experience the eclipse should buy eclipse glasses from a reputable vendor. Sunglasses are not protective enough, and binoculars and telescopes without a proper solar filter can magnify light from the sun, making them unsafe.

“Please, please put those glasses on,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.

Where to find eclipse glasses
Since counterfeit glasses abound, consider purchasing glasses from a local science museum or order online from a seller cleared on the American Astronomical Society’s website.


Eclipse safety experts say legitimate eclipse glasses should block out ultraviolet light from the sun and nearly all visible light. When worn indoors, only very bright lights should be faintly visible — not household furniture or wallpaper.

Old eclipse glasses from the 2017 total solar eclipse or October’s “ring of fire” annular eclipse are safe to reuse, as long as they aren’t warped and don’t have scratches or holes.

Glasses should say they comply with ISO 12312-2 standards, though fake suppliers can also print this language on their products. NASA does not approve or certify eclipse glasses.

How to view the eclipse without glasses
If you don’t have eclipse glasses, you can still enjoy the spectacle through indirect ways such as making a pinhole projector using household materials.


Poke a hole through a piece of cardstock or cardboard, hold it up during the eclipse and look down to see a partial crescent projected below. Holding up a colander or a cracker will produce a similar effect.

Another trick: Peering at the ground under a shady tree can yield crescent shadows as the sunlight filters through branches and leaves.

Eye experts warn against viewing the eclipse through a phone camera. The sun’s bright rays can also damage a phone’s digital components.

Why looking at a solar eclipse is dangerous
Eye damage can occur without proper protection. The sun’s bright rays can burn cells in the retina at the back of the eye. The retina doesn’t have pain receptors, so there’s no way to feel the damage as it happens. Once the cells die, they don’t come back.


Symptoms of solar eye damage, called solar retinopathy, include blurred vision and colour distortion.

In a rare case of eclipse eye damage, a woman who viewed the 2017 eclipse without adequate protection came to Mount Sinai’s New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, complaining of a black spot in her vision. Doctors discovered retinal damage that corresponded to the eclipse’s shape.

“The dark spot she was describing was in the shape of a crescent,” said Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, a Mount Sinai ophthalmologist.

There’s no set rule for how long of a glance can lead to permanent damage. Severity varies based on cloudiness, air pollution and a person’s vantage point.

But doctors say looking at a solar eclipse for even a few seconds unprotected isn’t worth the risk. There are reports of solar retinopathy after every solar eclipse, and U.S. eye doctors saw dozens of extra visits after the one in 2017.

Spectators who plan ahead can secure a stress-free eclipse viewing experience.

“It can be dangerous if we aren’t careful, but it’s also very safe if we take the basic precautions,” said Dr. Geoffrey Emerson, a board member of the American Society for Retina Specialists.

I think the upcoming solar eclipse will not occur in my country. It will be seen in South America. But I remember the 1999 eclipse and the one in, I think, 2009 (I can't remember). One was total and one was partial. On both occasions I viewed it through a plastic kitchen sink bucket filled with water and looked at the reflection of it in the water.
 

spaminator

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Faster spinning Earth may cause timekeepers to subtract second from world clocks
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Seth Borenstein
Published Mar 27, 2024 • 4 minute read

Earth’s changing spin is threatening to toy with our sense of time, clocks and computerized society in an unprecedented way — but only for a second.


For the first time in history, world timekeepers may have to consider subtracting a second from our clocks in a few years because the planet is rotating a tad faster than it used to. Clocks may have to skip a second — called a “negative leap second” — around 2029, a study in the journal Nature said Wednesday.


“This is an unprecedented situation and a big deal,” said study lead author Duncan Agnew, a geophysicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. “It’s not a huge change in the Earth’s rotation that’s going to lead to some catastrophe or anything, but it is something notable. It’s yet another indication that we’re in a very unusual time.”

Ice melting at both of Earth’s poles has been counteracting the planet’s burst of speed and is likely to have delayed this global second of reckoning by about three years, Agnew said.


“We are headed toward a negative leap second,” said Dennis McCarthy, retired director of time for the U.S. Naval Observatory who wasn’t part of the study. “It’s a matter of when.”

It’s a complicated situation that involves, physics, global power politics, climate change, technology and two types of time.

Earth takes about 24 hours to rotate, but the key word is about.

For thousands of years, the Earth has been generally slowing down, with the rate varying from time to time, said Agnew and Judah Levine, a physicist for the time and frequency division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The slowing is mostly caused by the effect of tides, which are caused by the pull of the moon, McCarthy said.


This didn’t matter until atomic clocks were adopted as the official time standard more than 55 years ago. Those didn’t slow.

That established two versions of time — astronomical and atomic _ and they didn’t match. Astronomical time fell behind atomic time by 2.5 milliseconds every day. That meant the atomic clock would say it’s midnight and to Earth it was midnight a fraction of a second later, Agnew said.

Those daily fractions of seconds added up to whole seconds every few years. Starting in 1972, international timekeepers decided to add a “leap second” in June or December for astronomical time to catch up to the atomic time, called Coordinated Universal Time or UTC. Instead of 11:59 and 59 seconds turning to midnight, there would be another second at 11:59 and 60 seconds. A negative leap second would go from 11:59 and 58 seconds directly to midnight, skipping 11:59:59.


Between 1972 and 2016, 27 separate leap seconds were added as Earth slowed. But the rate of slowing was tapering off.

“In 2016 or 2017 or maybe 2018, the slowdown rate had slowed down to the point that the Earth was actually speeding up,” Levine said.

Earth’s speeding up because its hot liquid core — “a large ball of molten fluid” — acts in unpredictable ways, with eddies and flows that vary, Agnew said.

Agnew said the core has been triggering a speedup for about 50 years, but rapid melting of ice at the poles since 1990 masked that effect. Melting ice shifts Earth’s mass from the poles to the bulging center, which slows the rotation much like a spinning ice skater slows when extending their arms out to their sides, he said.


Without the effect of melting ice, Earth would need that negative leap second in 2026 instead of 2029, Agnew calculated.

For decades, astronomers had been keeping universal and astronomical time together with those handy little leap seconds. But computer system operators said those additions aren’t easy for all the precise technology the world now relies on. In 2012, some computer systems mishandled the leap second, causing problems for Reddit, Linux, Qantas Airlines and others, experts said.

“What is the need for this adjustment in time when it causes so many problems?” McCarthy said.

But Russia’s satellite system relies on astronomical time, so eliminating leap seconds would cause them problems, Agnew and McCarthy said. Astronomers and others wanted to keep the system that would add a leap second whenever the difference between atomic and astronomical time neared a second.


In 2022, the world’s timekeepers decided that starting in the 2030s they’d change the standards for inserting or deleting a leap second, making it much less likely.

Tech companies such as Google and Amazon unilaterally instituted their own solutions to the leap second issue by gradually adding fractions of a second over a full day, Levine said.

“The fights are so serious because the stakes are so small,” Levine said.

Then add in the “weird” effect of subtracting, not adding a leap second, Agnew said. It’s likely to be tougher to skip a second because software programs are designed to add, not subtract time, McCarthy said.

McCarthy said the trend toward needing a negative leap second is clear, but he thinks it’s more to do with the Earth becoming more round from geologic shifts from the end of the last ice age.

Three other outside scientists said Agnew’s study makes sense, calling his evidence compelling.

But Levine doesn’t think a negative leap second will really be needed. He said the overall slowing trend from tides has been around for centuries and continues, but the shorter trends in Earth’s core come and go.

“This is not a process where the past is a good prediction of the future,” Levine said. “Anyone who makes a long-term prediction on the future is on very, very shaky ground.”
 

Blackleaf

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This planet would tear you apart...

 

spaminator

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Niagara region declares state of emergency to prepare for influx of eclipse viewers
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Mar 29, 2024 • 1 minute read

OTTAWA — Ontario’s Niagara Region has declared a state of emergency as it prepares to welcome up to a million visitors for the solar eclipse in early April.


The total solar eclipse on April 8 will be the first to touch the province since 1979, and Niagara Falls was declared by National Geographic to be one of the best places to see it.

The city is in the path of totality, where the moon will entirely block the suns rays for a few minutes.

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati said earlier in March that he expects the most visitors his city has ever seen in a single day.

The regional municipality of Niagara is proactively invoking a state of emergency to prepare for the event.

The declaration, announced Thursday, sets in motion some additional planning tools to ready for the day which could involve major traffic jams, heavier demands on emergency services and cell phone network overloads.
 

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Fluid in eye cells can 'boil' if you watch eclipse without protection: Expert
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Nicole Ireland
Published Mar 29, 2024 • 4 minute read

Millions of people in parts of Eastern and Atlantic Canada will be able to see the rare solar eclipse happening on April 8. But they should only look up if they have proper eye protection, experts say.


WHY IS WATCHING THE ECLIPSE MORE DANGEROUS THAN LOOKING AT THE SUN ON A NORMAL DAY?


When people look up at the sun normally, the intense brightness triggers pain that causes them to look away quickly before it can cause damage, said Dr. Philip Hooper, president of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.

But as the moon starts to block the sun in the period leading up to the total eclipse “there is significant light energy that’s coming from the sun, but we don’t appreciate pain. And so you can look at it long enough to do damage to the eye,” said Hooper, who is also an associate professor of ophthalmology at Western University in London, Ont.

HOW DOES STARING AT THE SUN DAMAGE OUR EYES?

When you’re looking directly at the sun, intense visible light and infrared radiation are focused on the centre of the retina in the back of the eye.


“It’s basically like taking a magnifying glass in the sun on a normal day and focusing that light on a piece of paper. It can get hot enough to burn the paper,” Hooper said.

The sun has the same effect, because your eye concentrates that energy into a small area of the retina.

“The temperature of the cells in that area can actually get high enough that the fluid in the cells actually boils and it damages the cells permanently,” he said.

CAN I JUST PUT MY SUNGLASSES ON TO WATCH THE ECLIPSE?

No. Sunglasses do not provide protection, Hooper said.

WHAT IF I STAY INSIDE AND WATCH THROUGH THE WINDOW?

Again, no. Windows offer no protection.

IS IT SAFE TO WATCH THROUGH A PHONE CAMERA?

No.

“Eclipse or not, you shouldn’t look at the sun directly with the naked eye, or with a camera or telescope, without a (certified) solar filter. This can lead to irreversible eye damage,” says an eclipse safety video posted online by the Canadian Space Agency.


Pointing your phone camera directly at the eclipse may also have other consequences.

“Just remember that your camera on your phone has lenses just like eyeglasses do, and that light is coming in from the sun as soon as you open the shutter,” said Elaina Hyde, director of the Allan I. Carswell Observatory at York University in Toronto.

“At the very least you could expect to damage your camera. You won’t be able to see anything, again, because your phone is not able to handle that light.”

HOW DO I SAFELY WATCH THE ECLIPSE?

You’ll need special glasses with filters designed for eclipse watching, says the Canadian Space Agency website.

Those glasses must have side protection so that light rays can’t enter, said Hooper.

They must also have certified lenses, he said.


The certification ISO 12312-2 should be printed on the glasses, which means the glasses meet international safety standards.

While wearing the glasses, you should not be able to see anything unless you’re staring at the sun.

“No matter how bright a light you are exposed to in your indoor environment, if you shone a very bright light through them, you’d see nothing. They’re totally black. That’s how dark they are,” Hooper said.

The eclipse glasses should not be used if they are “scratched, punctured, torn, or otherwise damaged,” the American Astronomical Society says on its website, noting that people should inspect their glasses before using them.

The society also says that children using the glasses during the eclipse must be supervised at all times.


WHERE CAN I GET THE ISO 12312-2 CERTIFIED GLASSES?

Free eclipse-viewing glasses are available at many libraries, cities and school districts across Canada, according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada website.

The American Astronomical Society has a list of companies and retailers in both Canada and the U.S. that sell certified solar eclipse glasses on its website.

Some companies selling them in Quebec are listed on the Eclipse Quebec website.

WHAT ABOUT WELDING GOGGLES?

Welding goggles come in a variety of shades, denoted by number, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website.

The minimum darkness required to safely watch the eclipse is shade 13, said Hooper.

“That’s much darker than the welding glasses or goggles that are typically used by welders. And they’re not widely available,” he said.

IF I DON’T HAVE THE CERTIFIED GLASSES, IS THERE ANOTHER OPTION?

Another option for safe viewing is to make a projector so that you are never looking directly at the sun. It can be as basic as a piece of paper with a pinhole that projects the light from the sun onto the sidewalk, or a projector made out of a box.

The Canadian Space Agency website has simple instructions on how to make a projector using an empty cardboard box, a sheet of white paper, aluminum foil, a pin, tape and scissors.
 
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Globull news had a blurb this morning to be aware of scammers selling eclipse glasses that are not made to specs.
 

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The cosmic truth that gets revealed during a total solar eclipse
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post
Published Apr 01, 2024 • 4 minute read

Totality or bust. That’s the attitude of the serious eclipse aficionado.


If that means gassing up the car and driving hours and hours to the middle of nowhere to find a patch of clear sky along the “path of totality,” so be it. A partial solar eclipse, even one with the sun 99 percent obscured, won’t incite the same intensity of awe, wonder, shock or – for some – the irrepressible desire to scream.

The writer Annie Dillard, in a famous 1982 essay in the Atlantic, perceived in an eclipse a mind-blowing derangement of human existence, with intimations of the end of the world.

“Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him, or as flying in an airplane does to falling out of an airplane,” Dillard wrote.

Totality’s power comes from how strange it is, how unlike anything else. This entirely natural event has a supernatural vibe.


When the moon fully blocks the sun, darkness descends with stunning swiftness. The air temperature plummets. Birds and insects might start acting strangely. And in place of the normally incandescent sun, you see only a black disk surrounded by a glowing, shimmering, entrancing ring of light. It’s the corona – the sun’s atmosphere.

Seeing the corona is rare enough. But look around, and you’ll also notice the eclipsed sun surrounded by bright stars and planets. For the April 8 eclipse, Venus and Jupiter will bracket the sun, and Mars and Saturn may be faintly visible, according to NASA.

The sun and the stars and the planets do not, under normal circumstances, share the same sky. You could say the sun is diurnal, the stars nocturnal.


It is only during totality that the eclipse reveals a simple if profound truth: The sun lives among the stars, and the planets live with the sun. The five planets that may be visible on April 8 – counting the planet at your feet – will be lined up, along with the sun and moon, on the ecliptic of the solar system.

These are the kinds of ho-hum facts we learn in elementary school but that become gasp inducing during totality.

“We can literally see our place in the universe,” NASA astrophysicist Michael Kirk said.

“At totality, when you look at the sun, you actually realize that it is a star,” said Nicola “Nicky” Fox, the top science administrator at NASA. “It looks more like it’s a living, breathing thing rather than just a bright light.”


A ‘mind blowing’ experience
Totality has the paradoxical quality of hiding the sun but also revealing its nature – what it is, what it’s made of, how it works.

Copernicus explained the motion of the planets in a heliocentric solar system in 1543, but nearly a century later, the idea that Earth is not the centre of Creation was still getting Galileo in deep trouble.

Not until the second half of the 19th century did scientists have evidence that the sun is the same thing as the stars of the night sky. The breakthrough came through spectroscopy, the technique of analyzing wavelengths of light for the signatures of different elements. It took decades more for anyone to understand how the sun works. That mystery was entangled with the greatest unknown of all: the age of the sun.


Right up to the 20th century, some scientists estimated that the sun and Earth might be only a few tens of millions of years old. But Charles Darwin’s most famous theory, critics were quick to point out, required a very old Earth in which life could slowly evolve into a great diversity of forms.

British mathematician William Thomson, known as Lord Kelvin, argued for a much younger sun, based on calculations that assumed the sun produced energy through gravitational interactions as matter fell toward the core. The debate was resolved only with the development of atomic physics.

During an 1868 eclipse in India, French astronomer Pierre Jules Janssen detected a previously unknown element in the atmosphere of the sun using spectroscopy. English astronomer Joseph Norman Lockyer independently confirmed the discovery and gave the element its name: helium.


Now we know that hydrogen atoms fuse into helium atoms in the sun’s core. This reaction converts a small percentage of mass into energy in a process that is extremely efficient, fitting neatly with estimates that the solar system is a whopping 4.6 billion years old. The energy migrates outward from the core and eventually reaches Earth, making life possible.

Many other types of stars burn hydrogen as fuel. But our sun is a mature, relatively calm, reliable star. Look around the universe, and you will see a lot of stars that are comparatively unfriendly. They explode in their youth or spew radiation promiscuously. Red dwarf stars, the most common kind in our galaxy, are capable of blowing away the atmospheres of nearby planets.


“Different stars burn at different rates, liberating their free energy over millions to trillions of years,” physicist Michael Turner said in an email. “Long-lived stars like our sun do so over billions of years, making a rich biological evolution possible.”

The total solar eclipse on April 8 will be unusually convenient for Americans who want to witness this cosmic truth. The Texas-to-Maine path of totality – the narrow ribbon where the moon will cast its shadow – crosses many sizable cities, including Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo and Rochester.

According to NASA, about 31 million people in the United States don’t have to go far from home to experience totality. They just have to look up.

“Even though intellectually you know what it’s going to look like,” NASA’s Fox said, “it’s just mind-blowing.”
 
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NASA probes whether object that crashed into Florida home came from space station
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Apr 04, 2024 • Last updated 2 days ago • 1 minute read

The metal debris that fell through Alejandro Otero's roof on March 8, prompting speculation that it had tumbled from the International Space Station
The metal debris that fell through Alejandro Otero's roof on March 8, prompting speculation that it had tumbled from the International Space Station. PHOTO BY ALEJANDRO OTERO
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — NASA says it’s investigating whether an object that crashed into the roof of a home in southwest Florida last month came from the international space station.


Workers for the space agency picked up the object from the homeowner in Naples, Florida, last week and took it to the Kennedy Space Center, across the state in Cape Canaveral, where it is being analyzed to determine its origin, NASA spokesman Josh Finch said Thursday in an email.


“More information will be available once the analysis is complete,” Finch said.

Space debris typically burns up while reentering Earth’s atmosphere.

The object pierced the roof of a home owned by Alejandro Otero on March 8. He told television station WINK that he was notified by his son about the crashing object while he was on vacation. He came back early to check it out and found a cylindrical-shaped object weighing nearly 2 pounds (0.91 kilograms) that had ripped through his ceiling and torn up the flooring.

“I was shaking. I was completely in disbelief. What are the chances of something landing on my house with such force to cause so much damage,” Otero said. “I’m super grateful that nobody got hurt.”
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Solar eclipses can make their own weather. Here’s how.
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Matthew Cappucci, The Washington Post
Published Apr 04, 2024 • 4 minute read

Total Solar Eclipse-Preparations
A total solar eclipse is seen above the Bald Knob Cross of Peace Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in Alto Pass, Ill. Small towns and rural enclaves along the path of April’s 2024 total solar eclipse are steeling for huge crowds of sun chasers who plan to catch a glimpse of day turning into dusk in North America. PHOTO BY CHARLES REX ARBOGAST, FILE /AP Photo
Article content
On Monday, the moon will fully block the sun – cutting off daylight along a roughly 115-mile-wide path from Texas to Maine. It will allow the sun’s radiant atmosphere to protrude outward into space from behind the jet-black silhouette of the moon.


Tens of millions will flock to the path of totality, eager for a rendezvous with the moon’s shadow. It’s a celestial spectacle – but equally significant from a weather standpoint.

Solar eclipses have been known to affect the weather, often significantly, and have been studied with increasing interest. Six years ago on Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse trekked from Oregon to South Carolina, becoming perhaps the most widely observed such phenomenon in history.

With just a few days until the big event, scientists and everyday citizens alike are wondering how the eclipse will influence the weather.

Temperature drops
It’s no surprise that temperatures drop during an eclipse. After all, the sun is being blocked by the moon, meaning lesser insolation, or incoming solar radiation, is available to heat the ground.


The greatest temperature drop will occur in the zone of totality. How much the temperature falls will depend on the humidity, but dry environments could see a drop of 8 to 14 degrees. If it’s humid, probably 5 to 10 degrees. According to NASA, an eclipse in Zambia on June 21, 2001, yielded a drop of nearly 15 degrees.

In St. Louis, a temperature drop on the order of 7.2 degrees occurred during the last eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017. In Kentucky, it was an 8.1 degree drop.

During the March 20, 2015, total eclipse over the Faroe Islands, researchers found a 15-minute lag between the maximum eclipse and the bottoming out of temperatures. Scientists learned this by examining data from 266 weather stations scattered about the United Kingdom.


A NOAA paper on the 2017 eclipse also noted that “near-surface temperature do not return to pre-eclipse values until 60 minutes after totality.”

Clouds disappear
The reduction in temperature results in a cooling of the “boundary layer,” or the part of Earth’s atmosphere in contact with, and heated by, the ground.

During an eclipse, sunlight wanes and eventually disappears. It stops heating the ground, which in turn stops heating the lower atmosphere. The boundary layer may stop expanding vertically, and updrafts – pockets of buoyant, upward-moving air – will slow with the absence of heating. Fairweather cumulus clouds may fizzle or even vanish.

A 2024 paper used satellite data to investigate cloud cover during solar eclipses between 2005 and 2016. Scientists found that cotton ball cumulus clouds begin dissipating when a mere 15 percent of the sun is covered.


Moreover, with the annular “ring of fire” eclipse over East Africa and parts of the Indian Ocean on Oct. 3, 2005, the clouds didn’t start to return until 50 minutes after maximum eclipse.

That said, eclipses don’t generally affect mid- and high-level cloud cover. So those thin, wispy cirrus clouds at 35,000 feet will mostly stay put.

Relative humidity increases
During eclipses, relative humidity increases. There’s nothing adding moisture to the air but, as the air cools, it can’t hold as much water – meaning it’s holding a greater proportion of its capacity when the temperature drops.

During the 2017 total eclipse, relative humidity in Moose, Wyo., spiked from 31 percent before the eclipse to 51 percent just 40 minutes later.


In Kentucky, a statewide “mesonet” of 72 sensors recorded similar upticks in relative humidity. In Warren County, relative humidity rose from 40 percent to 60 percent, then fell back to 42 percent in the midafternoon. In Todd, Christian and Trigg Counties, relative humidities jumped from about 45 percent to 75 percent during totality.

Winds change
In 2017, researchers confirmed the existence of an “eclipse wind” of sorts. In essence, the passage of the moon’s shadow cools the air, causing it to sink. Air outside the shadow zone continues to rise, and a local, overturning circulation results.

It was found that light winds of around 5 mph switched direction (from the southeast to the southwest) and then went calm during the eclipse. After the eclipse, they returned to their original bearing.


Another paper found a 6 mph decrease in wind speeds with the Aug. 11, 1999, eclipse over central Europe.

Small changes in wind can even occur during a partial solar eclipse. Researchers in central Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains observed “thermally-driven winds” during the partial eclipse in that area in 2017.

The upper atmosphere is disturbed
The eclipse has impacts high above the ground, too. In the ionosphere – a layer of free electrons and ions between 37 and 190 miles above the ground that’s able to reflect radio waves – total solar eclipses produce “bow waves.”

Think about a boat cruising through a pond; it will make a V-shaped “bow wave,” since the water can’t get out of the way in time for the passage of the boat. The same is true as the eclipse’s shadow plows through the atmosphere at several times the speed of sound.


Researchers found that the 2017 total solar eclipse produced bow waves in the ionosphere, which they measured by fluctuations in electron density. The waves had a wavelength of about 190 to 250 miles, and propagated at about 626 mph.

The bottom line
Total solar eclipses are a rare and magical spectacle. One doesn’t just witness a total solar eclipse; they experience it.

That entails noticing changes in the weather, the ambient environment, etc. – how does it look? How does it feel? Every minor detail wraps into a truly unforgettable experience for those fortunate enough to find themselves in the path of totality.
 

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NASA awards contracts to 3 companies for new autonomous moon rovers
Author of the article:Washington Post
Washington Post
Christian Davenport, The Washington Post
Published Apr 04, 2024 • 4 minute read

The Astrolab Venturi FLEX moon rover for lunar exploration is seen during the Tech Live Conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Oct. 17, 2023.
The Astrolab Venturi FLEX moon rover for lunar exploration is seen during the Tech Live Conference in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Oct. 17, 2023. PHOTO BY PATRICK T. FALLON / FILES /Getty Images
NASA on Wednesday awarded contracts to three commercial space companies to develop autonomous rovers that the space agency would use to move cargo and people on the surface of the moon as it seeks to build an enduring presence there.


The rovers would allow astronauts to traverse more of the lunar surface, especially as NASA seeks to explore the lunar South Pole, where there is ice in the permanently shadowed craters. The rovers would operate even when astronauts are not on the moon – similar to how NASA’s rovers have crisscrossed Mars for years.


The difference with these moon rovers, however, is that the vehicles will be operated by the companies in partnership with NASA, and the companies would be able to pursue commercial opportunities with them as NASA seeks to help build a lunar economy.

The winning companies are Houston-based Intuitive Machines, which recently became the first commercial venture to send a spacecraft to the lunar surface; Venturi Astrolab, a start-up based outside of Los Angeles; and Lunar Outpost, based outside of Denver. Combined, the contracts have a maximum potential value of $4.6 billion over 15 years for the development of what NASA calls lunar terrain vehicles.


“As astronauts explore the south pole region of the moon during Artemis missions, they’ll be able to go farther and conduct more science than ever before, thanks to the lunar terrain vehicle,” Vanessa Wyche, the director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said during a briefing. “Think of a hybrid of the Apollo-style lunar rover that was driven by our astronauts and an uncrewed mobile science platform. This will give the crew the capability to travel a distance much farther from their landing site. In addition, during uncrewed operations, that LTV will provide autonomous operations for science and technology.”

The awards represent another down payment by NASA on its Artemis program, which the agency hopes will not only return astronauts to the lunar surface but will build a base there.


Over the years, the space agency has invested tens of billions of dollars in the Artemis program, including development of the Space Launch System rocket and the Orion crew capsule, which are to carry the astronauts to the vicinity of the moon. NASA has also awarded contracts for a pair of lunar landers – being built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin – to ferry astronauts to and from the surface. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The space agency is investing in new spacesuits and new technologies, such as mining, moon habitats and energy generation, including a program from Blue Origin to transform the lunar dirt, or regolith, into solar cells.

In addition to developing technology that would allow astronauts to “live off the land” while on the moon, NASA is looking for ways to expand how much of the lunar surface they can explore. In a statement last year, NASA said it wants vehicles that astronauts “will drive to explore and sample more of the lunar surface using the LTV than they could on foot.”


“As we found on Apollo, one to two kilometres is about as far as you want to walk in a suit on the lunar surface,” Steve Munday, NASA’s LTV program manager, said in an interview last year. “So you need something else. You need to extend that range, both for transportation and for science.”

But since astronauts would be on the surface only for up to 30 days at a time, the vehicle needs to be useful without astronauts on board. Between crewed missions, the LTVs would “transport cargo and scientific payloads between crewed landing sites, enabling additional science returns, resource prospecting and lunar exploration,” the agency said in a statement.

NASA said it would pay for one of the providers to land its rover on the moon before the third human landing under Artemis. That landing is planned for the end of the decade.


Venturi Astrolab, which is partnering with Axiom Space and Odyssey Space Research, announced last year that it had signed a contract with SpaceX to deliver its vehicle, the Flexible Logistics and Exploration Rover (FLEX). It hopes to first land on the moon in 2026, said chief executive and founder Jaret Matthews.

With SpaceX’s Starship rocket and a number of new spacecraft being built to land on the moon, “we’re at a point in history now where you can actually start to contemplate industrial-scale activity happening at the lunar south pole,” Matthews said during the briefing. “And we’re trying to build a platform to support it.”

For Intuitive Machines, which is partnering with AVL, Boeing, Michelin and Northrop Grumman, the contract award is another step in expanding its work on the moon after the landing of its Odysseus spacecraft earlier this year. “It’s just an exciting next step to put the first critical piece of infrastructure on the surface” of the moon, CEO Steve Altemus said.

Lunar Outpost is developing a fleet of rovers, CEO Justin Cyrus said, and intends to send its first to the lunar surface on an Intuitive Machines spacecraft later this year. The company is teaming with Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Goodyear and MDA Space.
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