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NASA to Talk Science Highlights of First Artemis Robotic Moon Landing

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Teams with Astrobotic install the NASA meatball decal on Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA/Isaac Watson

NASA will host a What’s on Board media teleconference at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the science payloads flying aboard the first commercial robotic flight to the lunar surface as part of the agency’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative under the Artemis program.

Carrying NASA and commercial payloads to the Moon, Astrobotic Technologies will launch its Peregrine lander on ULA’s (United Launch Alliance) Vulcan rocket. Liftoff of the ULA Vulcan rocket is targeted no earlier than Sunday, Dec. 24, from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Peregrine lunar lander will touch down on the Moon in early 2024.

Audio of the call will stream on the agency’s website at:

https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

Briefing participants include:

  • Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for Exploration, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Ryan Watkins, program scientist, Exploration Science Strategy and Integration Office, NASA Headquarters
  • Chris Culbert, project manager, CLPS, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • John Thornton, CEO, Astrobotic, Pittsburgh

To participate by telephone, media must RSVP no later than two hours before the briefing to: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

NASA awarded a task order for the delivery of scientific payloads to Astrobotic in May 2019. Among the items on its lander, the Peregrine Mission One will carry NASA payloads investigating the lunar exosphere, thermal properties of the lunar regolith, hydrogen abundances in the soil at the landing site, and magnetic fields, as well as radiation environment monitoring. 

Through Artemis, NASA is working with multiple CLPS vendors to establish a regular cadence of payload deliveries to the Moon to perform experiments, test technologies, and demonstrate capabilities to help NASA explore the lunar surface. This pool of companies may bid on task orders to deliver NASA payloads to the Moon. Task orders include payload integration and operations, launching from Earth, and landing on the surface of the Moon. The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity CLPS contracts have a cumulative maximum value of $2.6 billion through 2028.

With CLPS, as well as with human exploration near the lunar South Pole, NASA will establish a long-term cadence of Moon missions in preparation for sending the first astronauts to Mars.

For more Artemis updates, follow along at:

https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis/

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The Return of the Giant Pandas: A Symbol of Renewed Diplomacy Between China and the United States

China’s plan to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo signifies a renewed era of wildlife diplomacy and friendship with the United States.

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photo of panda and cub playing
Photo by Diana Silaraja on Pexels.com

In a gesture reflecting the enduring bond between China and the United States, the China Wildlife Conservation Association has announced plans to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo. This move marks a significant renewal of friendship after the recall of iconic bears on loan to U.S. zoos amid strained relations between the two nations.

The recent signing of cooperation agreements with zoos in San Diego and Madrid, along with ongoing discussions with zoos in Washington, D.C., and Vienna, underscores a fresh round of collaboration on panda conservation. This initiative not only highlights the importance of protecting these beloved creatures but also serves as a symbol of unity and shared commitment to wildlife preservation.

San Diego Zoo officials have expressed great anticipation for the arrival of the two pandas, a male and a female, expected to reach the zoo by the end of summer. Megan Owen, Vice President of Wildlife Conservation Science at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, shared her excitement, stating, “They’ve expressed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to re-initiate panda cooperation starting with the San Diego Zoo.”

As these gentle giants prepare to make their return to the San Diego Zoo, the significance of this gesture extends beyond conservation efforts. It serves as a testament to the power of wildlife diplomacy in fostering understanding and goodwill between nations, transcending political differences to focus on shared values and a common goal of protecting our planet’s biodiversity.

The upcoming arrival of the giant pandas symbolizes a renewed era of collaboration, friendship, and hope for a future where conservation efforts transcend borders and unite us in our shared responsibility to safeguard the natural world.

Source: Associated Press

https://apnews.com/article/pandas-san-diego-zoo-california-china-6976587ee9992c861d9a56db0cb1ff89?user_email=f874bd3cdce5fc878ed0ce94463be80ee9571a2ee483e46a76da589edb9944a0&utm_medium=APNews_Alerts&utm_source=Sailthru_AP&utm_campaign=NewsAlerts_0222_US_Panda&utm_term=AP%20News%20Alerts

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Unlocking the Next Frontier: Odysseus Lunar Lander’s Historic Mission

“Odysseus lunar lander aims to make history with first U.S. spacecraft touchdown on moon in 50 years. A testament to human ambition and innovation.”

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In the vast expanse of space, where dreams of exploration meet the harsh realities of technology and finance, Thursday marks a potential landmark moment in the annals of space exploration. The Odysseus lunar lander, a testament to human ingenuity and perseverance, stands on the precipice of making history as it aims to achieve what no U.S.-made spacecraft has done in five decades: a controlled touchdown on the lunar surface.

Intuitive Machines-1 Lunar Landing (Official NASA Broadcast)

After a breathtaking lift-off from Florida, Odysseus embarked on its journey towards the moon, capturing awe-inspiring images of our planet Earth along the way. Now, as it hurtles closer to its destination, the anticipation mounts for what could be the most perilous test yet – a soft landing on the moon’s surface.

Intuitive Machines, the pioneering force behind Odysseus, dares to tread where no private company has ventured before. If successful, this endeavor would mark the resurgence of American-made spacecraft landing on the moon since the final Apollo mission in 1972.

However, the road to lunar exploration is fraught with challenges, both technical and financial. While the Apollo program once commanded a budget exceeding 4% of all U.S. government spending, today’s NASA operates on a fraction of that, a mere 0.4%. To stretch resources further, NASA has turned to outsourcing robotic lunar landings to commercial entities like Intuitive Machines, aiming to achieve ambitious goals like the Artemis program’s lunar return with reduced costs.

But cost isn’t the only hurdle. The technical feat of landing a spacecraft precisely on a celestial body a quarter of a million miles away is akin to hitting a golf ball from New York to Los Angeles and landing it in a specific hole – a daunting task even with today’s advanced technology. Compounding the challenge is the time delay of roughly three seconds for signals to travel between Earth and the moon, leaving little room for error during critical maneuvers.

Moreover, the legacy of Apollo-era expertise has waned over the decades, leaving a gap that new technology alone cannot bridge. As Dr. Scott Pace of George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute aptly notes, “These are people doing it for the first time, and there’s no substitute for that experience.”

Yet, amidst these challenges, there’s an undeniable sense of optimism and determination. As Lisa Altemus of Intuitive Machines emphasizes, success in lunar exploration requires collective resilience, collaboration, and a willingness to learn from failures. It heralds not just a scientific achievement but the dawn of a new era – an emerging lunar economy where the moon’s resources could unlock boundless opportunities for humanity.

If Odysseus achieves its mission, it will not only mark the first U.S. spacecraft landing on the moon in half a century but also pave the way for future lunar endeavors, including the exploration of the moon’s south pole, a region rich in potential resources like ice and water.

As we stand on the brink of this historic moment, let us marvel at the audacity of human ambition, the tenacity of scientific endeavor, and the boundless possibilities that lie beyond Earth’s confines. The journey to the moon may be fraught with challenges, but with each step, we inch closer to unlocking the mysteries of our celestial neighbor and forging a new chapter in the saga of space exploration.

https://www.azfamily.com/app/2024/02/22/us-company-attempts-first-moon-landing-thursday-since-1972/

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NASA Astronaut Available for Interviews Prior to Space Station Mission

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NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson poses for a portrait at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Credits: NASA

NASA astronaut Tracy C. Dyson is available in limited opportunities to discuss her mission beginning at 8 a.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 26. The interviews will take place ahead of Dyson launching to the International Space Station in March.

The virtual interviews will stream live on NASA+, NASA Television, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.

Interested media must submit a request to speak with Dyson no later than 12 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston newsroom at 281-483-5111 or jsccommu@mail.nasa.gov.

Dyson is scheduled to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft Thursday, March 21, and will spend approximately six months aboard the space station. She will travel to the station with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and spaceflight participant Marina Vasilevskaya of Belarus, both of whom will spend approximately 12 days aboard the orbital complex.

During her expedition, Dyson will conduct scientific investigations and technology demonstrations that help prepare humans for future space missions and benefit people on Earth. Among some of the hundreds of experiments ongoing during her mission, Dyson will continue to study how fire spreads and behaves in space with the Combustion Integrated Rack, as well as contribute to the long-running Crew Earth Observations study by photographing Earth to better understand how our planet is changing over time.

After completing her expedition, Dyson will return to Earth this fall with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub on the Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft.

Learn more about International Space Station research and operations at:

https://www.nasa.gov/station

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