New Study Reveals Solar Heat to be the Likely Cause of Dust Storms on Mars

Mars weather seen from the InSight lander. (Credit: NASA)

COLUMBIA, Md. and HOUSTON, May 16, 2022 (Universities Space Research Association PR) — A team of scientists, including Dr. Germán Martínez from the Universities Space Research Association, just published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This study indicates there are seasonal energy imbalances in the amount of solar energy absorbed and released by Mars which is a likely cause of dust storms and could play an important role in understanding the climate and atmosphere of the red planet. 

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Astronauts May One Day Drink Water from Ancient Moon Volcanoes

Scientists believe that the moon’s snakelike Schroeter’s Valley was created by lava flowing over the surface. (Image Credit: NASA Johnson)

BOULDER (University of Colorado at Boulder PR) — Billions of years ago, a series of volcanic eruptions broke loose on the moon, blanketing hundreds of thousands of square miles of the orb’s surface in hot lava. Over the eons, that lava created the dark blotches, or maria, that give the face of the moon its familiar appearance today.

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Call for Artemis Science White Papers

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

Lunar and Planetary Institute Announcement

In 2024, NASA will launch the Artemis III mission to the Moon’s South Pole, the first human mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century. In preparation for this historic mission, NASA is now planning the science activities to be executed by the crew of two. The Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is forming a Science Definition Team (SDT) that will pull from existing community documents (the LEAG RoadmapDecadal surveysSCEM reportASM report) to develop the detailed science objectives to achieve the science goals that have already been released by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) in the Artemis Science Plan.

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USGS Releases First-Ever Comprehensive Geologic Map of the Moon

Orthographic projections of the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” showing the geology of the Moon’s near side (left) and far side (right) with shaded topography from the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA). This geologic map is a synthesis of six Apollo-era regional geologic maps, updated based on data from recent satellite missions. It will serve as a reference for lunar science and future human missions to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/USGS)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (USGS PR) –  Have you ever  wondered  what  kind of rocks make up those bright and dark splotches on the moon? Well, the USGS has just released a new authoritative map to help explain the 4.5-billion-year-old history of our nearest neighbor in space.

For the first time, the entire lunar surface has been completely mapped  and uniformly classified by scientists from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, in collaboration with NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute.

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The LPI’s Lunar South Pole Atlas — A New Online Reference for Mission Planners

Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute

HOUSTON and COLUMBIA, Md., May 17, 2019 (LPI/USRA PR) — The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), managed by Universities Space Research Association (USRA), has compiled and made available an atlas of the Moon’s south pole ( https://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/lunar-south-pole-atlas/). Given NASA’s recent direction to implement Space Policy Directive-1 landing astronauts at the south pole by 2024, the LPI has compiled a series of maps, images, and illustrations designed to provide context and reference for those interested in exploring this area.

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NASA Cancels Lunar Resource Prospector, Promises Aggressive Commercial Strategy

The Resource Prospector prototype searches for a buried sample tube at the Johnson Space Center rock yard in August 2015. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a move that left the lunar science community stunned, NASA has canceled the Resource Prospector mission, which would have sent a rover to the moon to drill holes in search of ice and other volatiles that could be used to support human settlers and miners and turned into fuel to power spacecraft.

In place of the mission, which was set to launch in 2022, the space agency issued a draft request for proposal (RFP) on Friday for the new Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. Under CLPS, NASA would pay companies to carry instruments and experiments to the lunar surface aboard privately-built landers and rovers.

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Fly Over Pluto with this Amazing Video

Video Caption: Using actual New Horizons data and digital elevation models of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, mission scientists have created flyover movies that offer spectacular new perspectives of the many unusual features that were discovered and which have reshaped our views of the Pluto system – from a vantage point even closer than the spacecraft itself.

This dramatic Pluto flyover begins over the highlands to the southwest of the great expanse of nitrogen ice plain informally named Sputnik Planitia. The viewer first passes over the western margin of Sputnik, where it borders the dark, cratered terrain of Cthulhu Macula, with the blocky mountain ranges located within the plains seen on the right. The tour moves north past the rugged and fractured highlands of Voyager Terra and then turns southward over Pioneer Terra — which exhibits deep and wide pits — before concluding over the bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa in the far east of the encounter hemisphere.

Digital mapping and rendering were performed by Paul Schenk and John Blackwell of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.