Published: Tue, May 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

The Moon is cooling, shrinking and has moonquakes, Nasa finds

The Moon is cooling, shrinking and has moonquakes, Nasa finds

Shortly after Pence's announcement, in which he said astronauts would get to the lunar surface "by any means necessary", there was talk that the White House would ask for a huge amount of additional funding, as much as US$8 billion a year.

"To land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024, we are working through the acquisition approach for the various projects", said NASA in a statement.

The money would go toward ramping up NASA's previous plans for crewed missions to the moon starting in 2028.

As the moon's interior cools, it shrinks, which causes its hard surface to crack and form fault lines, according to research sponsored by NASA.

The increased funding request, announced by President Donald Trump on Twitter, comes almost two months after Vice President Mike Pence declared the objective of shortening by four years NASA's previous timeline for putting astronauts back on the moon for the first time since 1972. "The 2024 missive left NASA in a tizzy - scrambling to develop a plan and hastening to pull together a budget amendment that still have not been delivered to Congress; and upending groundwork with global partners on future exploration goals".

Mark Sirangelo, a special assistant to Bridenstine focusing on lunar missions, emphasized that "we're going to try to make this nonpartisan ... from the start".

But at a recent congressional hearing, Bridenstine disputed that. "But I will tell you, when we talk about what NASA is trying to achieve, there is a lot of excitement". A new analysis of moon quakes from the Era of "Apollo points" missions.

"Our astronaut office is very diverse and highly qualified", Bridenstine said.

NASA is planning on sending the first woman ever and the first man in almost five decades to the moon by 2024, thanks to an additional increase to the agency's budget by US President Donald Trump.

"We found that a number of the quakes recorded in the Apollo data happened very close to the faults seen in the [NASA's Apollo and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions] LRO imagery". Those components include both a power and propulsion module and a small habitat module. "All we need. we've got in this budget".

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine welcomed the news, describing it as an investment in the space agency's future. The SLS is due for its first uncrewed test flight in 2020, with a crewed round-the-moon flight in 2023 and the climactic Artemis launch in 2024. Another $1 billion will be used to build human lunar landing systems "three years earlier than previously envisioned to bring humans to the Moon's surface by 2024", the budget amendment stated. Bridenstine said during the call that he had not been briefed on what those budgetary offsets would be.

By seeking to grab extra dollars from outside NASA's existing budget, Mr. Bridenstine said the goal was to avoid the type of partisan and geographic battles on Capitol Hill that scuttled numerous NASA program shifts over the years. "There's long-lead items, there's hardware, there's pieces we need to move in place, and now's the time to go move". That's why the moon is so valuable. Nasa said that no programmes, other than Gateway, were being cut.

The extra $1.6 billion is created to help NASA put astronauts down near the lunar south pole in 2024, an ambitious goal that Vice President Mike Pence laid out in March.

The amendment envisions a simplified blueprint for the Lunar Gateway, the planned space outpost in lunar orbit that will serve as a stepping stone for sending astronauts to the moon's surface.

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