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Hubble Prospects For Resources on The Moon

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Apollo 17 Landing Site
Apollo 17 Landing Site, HST and Apollo mission images. NASA/ESA/HST Moon Team
Although U.S. astronauts have visited the moon before, they only spent a few days there, making short forays into the barren landscape. A new Vison for Space Exploration, announced by President George W. Bush in January 2004, calls for the establishment of human outposts on the moon and later, human exploration of Mars. This time, we're going back to stay.

To prepare for potential manned missions to the Earth's Moon, NASA scientists are using the Hubble Space Telescope to hunt for resources, such as oxygen, that are essential for people to survive and to sustain their existence on the lunar surface. Hubble's preliminary observations and results are promising. A preliminary assessment of the Hubble observations pinpoints possible locations of ilmenite, a titanium oxide rich in oxygen, at the Apollo 17 landing region. Ilmenite is a potentially key resource because it contains easily extracted oxygen, which can be used for breathing and for rocket fuel. Since the moon doesn't have an atmosphere, scientists must hunt for oxygen in lunar soils if we are to learn to live off the “land”.

More: NASA - Hubble Prospects For Resources on The Moon


Hubble Spots Possible New Moons Around Pluto

Saturday, November 12, 2005

HST images showing two new candidate satellites orbiting around Pluto
HST images showing two new candidate satellites orbiting around Pluto
The Hubble Space Telescope images shown left, taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, reveal Pluto, its large moon Charon, and the planet's two new candidate satellites. Between May 15 and May 18, 2005, Charon, and the potential moons, provisionally designated P1 and P2, all appear to rotate counterclockwise around Pluto. P1 and P2 move less than Charon because they are farther from Pluto, and therefore would be orbiting at slower speeds. P1 and P2 are thousands of times less bright than Pluto and Charon. The enhanced-color images of Pluto (the brightest object) and Charon (to the right of Pluto) were constructed by combining short exposure images. The images of the new satellites were made from longer exposures.

More: NASA - Hubble Spots Possible New Moons Around Pluto - view more images and get the full story on this exciting discovery!