By Jason Moon, CNN
A meteoroid struck the surface of the moon recently, causing an explosion that was visible on Earth without the aid of a telescope, NASA reported Friday. But don't be alarmed if you didn't see it; it only lasted about a second.
"It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything we've ever seen before," said Bill Cooke, of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.
NASA astronomers have been monitoring the moon for the past eight years, looking for explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. It's part of a program to find new fields of space debris that could hit Earth. NASA says it sees hundreds of detectable lunar meteoroid impacts a year.
By Brian Walker, CNN
A set of giant rocket engines that once propelled astronauts to space have now been recovered from the icy depths of the Atlantic, say a team of researchers led by Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos four decades after they splashed into the ocean.
“What an incredible adventure,” Bezos posted on his website from onboard his recovery ship off the Florida coast.
“We found so much,” the billionaire adventurer says. “We’ve seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program.”
Follow @CNNLightYears on Twitter for more space and science updates.
By John Zarrella, CNN
If newly unveiled plans pan out, a man and a woman may represent humanity on one journey that has never been attempted before: a mission to Mars.
“It’s incredibly feasible. It’s not crazy talk," Taber MacCallum, CEO of Paragon Space Development Corp., told CNN.
MacCallum and millionaire Dennis Tito announced their plans Wednesday to send a couple of earthlings on a 501-day trip in a spacecraft that would fly by the red planet. The proposal was unveiled at the National Press Club in Washington.
CNN's Chad Myers has the details of an asteroid scientists say will narrowly miss hitting Earth in February.
A pair of robotic twins that have been diligently mapping the moon this year went out with a bang Monday.
As scheduled, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory probes Ebb and Flow crashed into a mountain on the moon, ending a fruitful mission to study the surface and composition of the celestial body.
"The two probes were sent purposely into the moon because they no longer had enough altitude or fuel to continue science operations," NASA said.
By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
A pair of robotic twins that have been diligently mapping the moon this year will go out with a bang Monday, around 5:28 p.m. EST.
The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) probes Ebb and Flow will crash into a mountain on the moon Monday afternoon, ending a fruitful mission to study the surface and composition of the moon.
"Scientifically we are learning a great deal about not only the moon but about the early evolution of terrestrial planets," said principal investigator Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at a press conference Thursday.
Thanks to GRAIL, scientists now have the "highest-resolution gravity field map of any celestial body," NASA said. That means the probes have been making a high-quality map of the gravitational field of the moon, which give scientists unprecedented insight into what's below the surface and how the moon may have formed.
"Forty years ago today on Dec. 11, 1972, astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander, makes a short checkout of the lunar rover during the early part of the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. This view of the 'stripped down' rover is prior to loading up. Equipment later loaded onto the rover included the ground-controlled television assembly, the lunar communications relay unit, hi-gain antenna, low-gain antenna, aft tool pallet, lunar tools and scientific gear.
This photograph was taken by scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, lunar module pilot. The mountain in the right background is the east end of South Massif. While astronauts Cernan and Schmitt descended in the Lunar Module 'Challenger' to explore the moon, astronaut Ronald E. Evans, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules 'America' in lunar orbit."Source: NASA
A memorial service to honor astronaut Neil Armstrong will be held September 13 at the Washington National Cathedral.
The first man on the moon died on August 25, at 82, from complications of a cardiovascular procedure.
According to a statement from NASA and the cathedral, a "very limited number of seats will be made available to the public." People who are interested in attending should contact Christine Peterson at email@example.com.
The Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, will officiate at the service, which will begin at 10 a.m. ET, the release said. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other dignitaries will pay tribute to Armstrong, who also flew combat missions as a Navy pilot during the Korean War.
Armstrong's family held a private memorial service on Friday in Ohio. Memorials were also held around the country, including events at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Armstrong took two trips into space. He made his first journey in 1966 as commander of the Gemini 8 mission, which nearly ended in disaster.
Armstrong kept his cool and brought the spacecraft home safely after a thruster rocket malfunctioned and caused it to spin wildly out of control.
During his next space trip in July 1969, Armstrong and fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off in Apollo 11 on a nearly 250,000-mile journey to the moon that went down in the history books.
It took them four days to reach their destination.
The world watched and waited as the lunar module "Eagle" separated from the command module and began its descent.
Then came the words from Armstrong: "Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed."
About six and a half hours later at 10:56 p.m. ET on July 20, 1969, Armstrong, at age 38, became the first person to set foot on the moon.
He uttered the now-famous phrase: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."
After his historic mission to the moon, Armstrong worked for NASA, coordinating and managing the administration's research and technology work.
In 1971, he resigned from NASA and taught engineering at the University of Cincinnati for nearly a decade.
Armstrong largely avoided the public spotlight and chose to lead a quiet, private life with his wife and children.
The cathedral is home to a lunar rock, which the Apollo 11 astronauts presented to church officials in 1974 when they dedicated the church's Space Window.
Neil Armstrong was memorialized today in a private service held by his family in Ohio. Memorials are also being held around the country, including events at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The first man on the moon died on August 25, at 82, from complications of a cardiovascular procedure.
The loss of this American hero has been felt keenly around the country and the world, prompting responses not only from everyday citizens but also from President Obama, who proclaimed that flags fly at half-staff on the day of his burial, Charles Bolden, the current NASA administrator, and his fellow astronauts and colleagues.
In a YouTube statement, Charles Bolden said, "Neil will always be remembered for taking human's first small step on a world beyond our own, but it was his courage, grace and humility before during and after his historic Apollo 11 mission that has continued to lift him and all of us far beyond that breakthrough achievement."
Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin said in a separate statement, "Whenever I look at the moon it reminds me of the moment over four decades ago when I realized that even though we were farther away from Earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone....I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew....I had truly hoped that in 2019, we would be standing together along with our colleague Mike Collins to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of our moon landing."
The Armstrong family also released a pair of statements. Upon his death, they expressed the following: "Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati."
"For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
To that end, the Internet has responded with Wink at the Moon Night, to be marked on August 25th of every year.
For those wishing to honor Neil Armstrong's memory, his family released a list of organizations that they believe are worthy of such an honor, including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, saying "The outpouring of condolences and kind wishes from around the world overwhelms us and we appreciate it more than words can express."
If humanity ever colonizes the moon, we'll need the help of local resources, like water and solar power. The lunar poles, which contain regions of constant sunlight, as well as constant darkness, could be ideal locations for finding both.
Scientists have exciting new insights about the south pole in particular: A study released in Nature today suggests that there is frozen water within a massive, well-preserved crater there.
The Shackleton crater is more than 12 miles in diameter and about two miles deep, and exists in permanent shadow. While the evidence for ice in the crater has been inconsistent, this new study, conducted by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brown University and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, finds evidence for ice on the floor of the crater.
The research team, led by Maria Zuber of MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, used an instrument called a laser altimeter aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to create a highly detailed topographical map of Shackleton crater. The laser basically lit up the area, allowing the team to measure the natural reflectivity (albedo) of the crater's interior, which Zuber describes as "extremely rugged."
Those measurements revealed that the crater's floor is much brighter than the floor of other nearby craters, which is consistent with ice in the area. Ice may make up 22% of the first micron-thick layer of the crater's floor, which Zuber says is about 100 gallons - not too much. However, these measurements aren't at all indicative of what ice may be beneath the surface.
The researchers also observed that the crater's walls were brighter than the floor - a surprise, given that the thinking was that if ice present were inside Shackleton, it'd be on the floor, since there's even less sunlight reaching the bottom of the crater than its walls.
Zuber and her team explain the brighter walls by theorizing that occasional "moonquakes" might cause older, darker soil on Shackleton's walls to slide off, revealing brighter soil underneath.
LRO orbits the moon from pole to pole, which allows the laser altimeter to map a different slice of the moon with each orbit. Each slice contains data from both lunar poles. Zuber and her team ultimately used over 5 million measurements of Shackleton crater to create their map, which is unprecedented in its level of detail and helpful for studying crater formation and other lunar processes. Detailed maps like these are also useful for planning future robotic or human missions.
One of those future missions is NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft, also in orbit around the Moon. "We'll be attempting to detect evidence for subsurface ice this fall," says Zuber.
For more, check out this video from MIT: