Moon to get its own neighborhood watch

June 15th, 2009 - 12:32 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 15 (ANI): The Moon is all set to get its very own neighborhood watch, in the form of a scouting probe due to launch on June 17, which will make upcoming trips to the moon that little bit safer.

Killer space radiation and meteorite impacts are just a few of the pleasures that await astronauts venturing onto the lunar surface as part of NASA’s return to the moon, planned for the 2020s.

According to a report in New Scientist, to map out these dangers and pinpoint resources like water-ice and metals in lunar rock and soil, NASA plans to launch its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) on 17 June.

It will hit orbit four days later.

The probe will carry pieces of plastic designed to simulate the density and chemical proportions of human skin and muscle, as part of an experiment called CRaTER (Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation).

The LRO’s particle detectors will measure how this plastic interacts with cosmic rays. A form of space radiation made up of particles such as protons that can lead to cancer by damaging DNA.

LRO’s cameras will scan the lunar surface for potential landing sites.

It will also be on the lookout for new impact craters in areas previously only imaged with a resolution of 1 to 2 metres by the Apollo spacecraft four decades ago.

This should help to gauge the risk of future impacts; as moon bases with holes smashed into their roofs can be dangerously draughty. (ANI)

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