Moons

Blogs about any natural satellite.

Animation of the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover during the moon landing (on the left) and the real situation (on the right) (Image courtesy ISRO)

The Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover of the Indian mission Chandrayaan 3, launched on July 14, have successfully landed on the Moon. The idea at the Indian space agency ISRO was to replicate what was done almost exactly four years ago in the Chandrayaan 2 mission, eliminating the problems encountered on that occasion in order to achieve success. The hard lesson was learned and this time, the vehicles successfully completed the insidious maneuver of landing on the Moon. India joins the small club of nations that successfully sent a vehicle to the Moon.

Photo of the Moon surface taken by the Luna 25 lander (Photo courtesy Roscosmos)

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has confirmed that its Luna 25 lander crashed on the Moon following an anomaly in one of the maneuvers that was supposed to lead to its Moon landing on Monday. The problems began on Saturday, when there was the problem and communications were lost. An examination of the telemetry data received up to that point led to the conclusion that the impulse was excessive, leading to a trajectory that caused a crash. Yet another problem in the Russian space program will bring consequences yet to be assessed in the Luna-Glob program which is based on increasingly ambitious missions for the next few years and had already accumulated years of delay.

Enceladus and some of its geysers (Image NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute)

An article published in the journal “Nature” reports the discovery of phosphorus, a key element for many biological processes, on Enceladus, the moon of the planet Saturn which has an underground ocean of liquid water. A team of researchers led by Frank Postberg of the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, analyzed data collected by the Cassini space probe made available in the Planetary Data System and in particular the data detected by the Cosmic Dust Analyzer instrument in samples of icy particles emitted by the geysers of Enceladus that arrived in one of Saturn’s rings.

The result of the analysis was the discovery of phosphates in concentrations at least one hundred times higher than those of the Earth’s oceans. Geochemical models suggest that phosphorus may be present in subsurface oceans of other moons. These discoveries increase the probability that life forms have arisen in the subsurface of some of those moons.

The surface of the Moon and the Earth in the background as seen by the Hakuto-R lander shortly before the attempted Moonlanding (Image courtesy ispace)

It was night in Tokyo when the Hakuto-R lander of the Japanese company ispace inc. attempted the Moon landing. Shortly before the touchdown, the team at the mission control center lost contact with Hakuto-R, and the last phase of the maneuver was followed only through a simulation based on the braking programming. After more than half an hour of trying to reconnect with the lander, company founder and CEO Takeshi Hakamada had to admit that he had to assume that the Moon landing could not be completed.

The JUICE space probe blasting off atop an Ariane 5 ECA rocket (Image courtesy Arianespace)

A little while ago, ESA’s JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) space probe was launched atop an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from the Kourou base in French Guiana. After about 27 minutes, it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and began the long journey that will take it to Jupiter orbit, where it will conduct its scientific mission, focused on the largest planet in the solar system’s so-called icy moons: Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto.