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What does China want to do on the Moon’s far side?

What will China’s Chang’e-4 mission learn about the far side of the Moon? Here are a few things the mission is designed to do.

Learn about the Moon’s history

No space mission has ever explored the far side from the surface. As such, it’s the first chance to explore a mysterious region of Earth’s natural satellite.

The “face” that’s never seen from Earth has some key differences to the more familiar “near side”. The far side has a thicker, older crust that is pocked with more craters. There are also very few of the “maria” (dark basaltic “seas” created by lava flows) that are evident on the near side.

Chang’e-4 has reportedly landed at a site known as Von Kármán crater, a 180km depression located in the far side’s southern hemisphere. But Von Kármán lies within a much bigger hole punched in the Moon – the South Pole-Aitken basin.

It’s the oldest, largest and deepest such basin on the Moon and formed when an asteroid – perhaps 500km across, or more – collided with it billions of years ago.

This event was so powerful that it is thought to have ploughed through the Moon’s outer crust layer and through into the zone known as the mantle.

One of the mission’s objectives is to study any exposed material from the mantle present at the landing site. This would provide insights into the internal structure and history of the Moon.

The South Pole-Aitken basin was formed by a giant impact billions of years ago

Indeed, data from orbiting spacecraft show that the composition of the basin is different from the surrounding lunar highlands. But exposed mantle material on the surface is just one possibility among several to explain this observation.

The rover will use its panoramic camera to identify interesting locations and its Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS) to study minerals in the floor of the crater (as well as of ejecta – rocks thrown out by nearby space impacts).

Additionally, the Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR) instrument will be able to look into the shallow subsurface of the Moon, down to a depth of about 100m. It could probe the thickness of the lunar regolith – the broken up rocks and dust that make up the surface – and shed light on the structure of the upper lunar crust.

After the huge impact that created the South Pole-Aitken basin, a large amount of melted rock would have filled the depression. The science team wants to use Chang’e-4 to identify and study variations in its composition.

Filling an astronomy gap

The far side of the Moon has long been regarded as an ideal spot for conducting a particular kind of radio astronomy – in the low-frequency band – because it’s shielded from the radio noise of Earth.

There’s a frequency band (below about 10MHz) where radio astronomy observations can’t be conducted from Earth, because of manmade radio interference and other, natural factors.

Chang’e-4’s lander is carrying an instrument called the Low Frequency Spectrometer (LFS) which can make low frequency radio observations. It will be used in concert with a similar experiment on the Queqiao orbiting satellite.

Radio telescopes on the Moon would be able to observe at frequencies not accessible to arrays on Earth

The objectives include making a map of the radio sky at low frequencies and studying the behaviour of the Sun.

Speaking in 2016, Liu Tongjie, from the Chinese space agency (CNSA), said: “Since the far side of the Moon is shielded from electromagnetic interference from the Earth, it’s an ideal place to research the space environment and solar bursts, and the probe can ‘listen’ to the deeper reaches of the cosmos.”

Thus, the mission will fill a gap in astronomical observation, allowing scientists to study cosmic phenomena in a way that has never been possible from our planet.

Radiation on the Moon

Understanding the radiation environment will be vital for future human exploration

Several space agencies want to land humans on the Moon in the not-too-distant future, and might send astronauts there for longer than we’ve ever stayed before. So understanding the potential risks from radiation are vital.

Earth’s thick atmosphere and strong magnetic field provide adequate shielding against galactic cosmic rays and energetic charged particles travelling from the Sun.

But astronauts on the Moon will be outside this protective bubble and exposed to particles travelling through open space at near the speed of light – with potentially damaging consequences for their health.

The Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND) experiment, supplied by researchers in Germany, will aim to fill in some gaps in our understanding about the lunar radiation environment.

It will provide dosimetry (measure the ionising radiation dose that could be absorbed by the human body) with a view to future exploration, and contribute to understanding of particles originating from the Sun.

Source www.bbc.co.uk

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Space

India Blew up a Satellite. Now A “Space Fence” Is Tracking Its Debris

Explosive Demonstration

Last month, India demonstrated its capabilities as a spacefaring nation and drew international criticism when it used a missile to blew up one of its own satellites.

The launch happened to coincide with Lockheed Martin’s test run of a new space monitoring technology called the Space Fence, which can detect and track any unregistered objects orbiting the Earth. According to Space News, that was a stroke of luck that could mitigate damage to people and equipment in space.

Picket Fence

The satellite explosion essentially turned the satellite into a cloud of space debris, which could in the future collide with other satellites, scientific instruments, or astronauts in orbit around the Earth — remember “Gravity”?

“We happened to be up during an endurance test and we were very excited to see that the system performed nominally,” Matthew Hughes, Lockheed Martin business development manager, told Space News. “Space fence is all about the ability to identify break ups, maneuvers, closely spaced objects, proximity operations, new foreign launches.”

While Space Fence isn’t an actual blockade in space, it can at least help officials prepare for and plan around collisions.

READ MORE: Indian anti-satellite test proves early test for Space Fence [Space News]

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Gateway to HEAVEN? NASA Hubble Telescope finds amazing cross structure at centre of galaxy

AN incredible image of what appears to be a cross at the centre of the galaxy has sparked theories it’s the gateway to heaven.

The image was first released by the space agency in June 1992 – according to hubblesite.org – but has just reemerged on conspiracy website Disclose.tv.

FINDING: This cross structure has sparked theories of a gateway to heaven (Pic: NASA)

According to hubblesite.org, which first published the image, the cross is due to “absorption by dust and marks the exact position of a black hole”.

It is also 1,100 light-years away from Earth, the website reveals.

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It writes: “The darkest bar may be an edge-on dust ring which is 100 light-years in diameter.

“The edge-on torus not only hides the black hole and accretion disk from being viewed directly from Earth, but also determines the axis of a jet of high-speed plasma and confines radiation from the accretion disk to a pair of oppositely directed cones of light, which ionize gas caught in their beam.

DISCOVERY: The cross structure was found by NASA’s Hubble Telescope

“The second bar of the “X” could be a second disk seen edge on, or possibly rotating gas and dust in MS1 intersecting with the jets and ionization cones.”

The incredible find has sparked claims it could prove the existence of heaven.

One commenter wrote on Disclose.tv: “Wow I guess I’ve been wrong all these years!

“This is surely a sign that God exists and he is showing us that heaven resides with the very centre of our galaxy.”

Another wrote: “Interesting. I’d say X marks the spot, but it does look like a crucifix. In fact, it looks like a figure hanging off of a crucifix…”

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Second Interstellar Meteor Discovered and This One Hit the Earth

Move over, ‘Oumuamua … there’s a new interstellar object in town. Well, there was, according to Abraham (Avi) Loeb, the astronomer who will be forever linked to ‘Oumuamua because of his theory that the cigar-shaped, not-of-this-solar-system object might actually be artificially made – in other words, an interstellar spaceship or solar sail. Despite some ridicule, Harvard didn’t fire the chair of its Astronomy Department and Loeb went back to work … and has now discovered his own interstellar object which predates ‘Oumuamua. Avi, can you give this one a name that’s easier to spell and pronounce?

“I was very surprised. I didn’t expect that. I thought we will not see anything. But in retrospect, like any discovery, you say, Oh yeah, of course. How could I be so foolish not to look for that in the first place?”

“That” is — or was – a meteor that was reported over Manus Island in Papua New Guinea on January 8, 2014. In a paper that has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Loeb and Harvard undergraduate student Amir Siraj describe how they found the report while reviewing the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies’ catalog of meteor events for objects that had two key ingredients indicating they might be from another galaxy – speed and trajectory.

“We know the motion of the Earth [and] we correct for it—for the gravity of Earth, gravity of the sun, gravity of all the planets.”

Loeb told National Geographic that he and Siraj searched through 30 years of data and found one meteor that had the right combination of both. The meteor was traveling at almost 37 miles per second (134,200 mph or 216,000 km/h) when it disintegrated over Manus Island. That’s too fast to have been slingshot at Earth by a tight loop around the Sun or Jupiter or another planet in the way NASA gives space probes a boost in velocity, which means it was probably fired at us by another star. While there are no pictures of this meteor, the data in the CNEOS catalog indicated an unusual trajectory that, when coupled with its speed, indicated this was most likely an interstellar object that arrived three years before ‘Oumuamua.

“If we identified such a thing in real time, we could take a spectrum and figure out the composition.”

Unfortunately, this one burned up in the atmosphere due to its size — three feet across and weighing about 1,100 pounds. And no, it wasn’t cigar-shaped, so Loeb doesn’t think it was a spaceship. However, it could still have been carrying life forms.

“You can imagine that if these meteors were ejected from the habitable zone of a star, they could help transfer life from one planetary system to another.”

Panspermia! Loeb thinks most of these interstellar objects are much smaller than ‘Oumuamua (1 km long) and will disintegrate before impacting, but much could be learned by beefing up the NEO detection system to catch more of them as they burn up in the atmosphere so their spectrums can be analyzed for mineral content.

That’s not as exciting as finding an alien spaceship, but Avi Loeb seems well on his way to becoming the go-to astronomer for interstellar objects.

Source: Mysterious Universe

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