Saturday, October 31, 2009

Armadillo disputes Mastin advantage, Unreasonable heartbreaker in Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander X-Prize Challenge

Update: Rob Goldsmith at the Space Fellowship has posted YouTube video taken on-board Unreasonable Rocket's Blue Bell, during it's spectacular but failed attempt to reach Level One of the 2009 Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, Saturday, HERE.

"Done for the day," after a long day of last minute technical challenges, "Blue Ball" comes down on target five seconds too soon after running out of fuel in flight. Though the feisty vehicle was only slightly damaged, the father and son team of the Breed family's Unreasonable Rocket group is out of options for achieving requirements for Level One of the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander X-Prize Challenge. The team will go for Level Two with their "Silver Ball" precision lander, Sunday. [X-Prize/Unreasonable Rocket]

John Carmack of Armadillo Aerospace calls foul, raises level of controversy over an apparent unfair advantage to Mastin Space Systems by X-Prize judges

Keith Cowling
NASA Watch

"The rules have given the judges the discretion to do just about anything up to and including awarding prize money for best effort if they felt it necessary, so there may not be any grounds to challenge this, but I do feel that we have been robbed. I was going to argue that if Masten was allowed to take a window on an unscheduled day with no notice, the judges should come back to Texas on Sunday and let us take our unused second window to try for a better accuracy, but our FAA waiver for the LLC vehicle was only valid for the weekend of our scheduled attempt."

Ares I-X SRB may have been dented in-flight

Underwater image showing a large dent in the lower segment of NASA's Ares I-X after splash down in the Atlantic, ending a test flight Oct. 28. [United Space Alliance].

Tariq Malik
Managing Editor

NASA has discovered a large dent on its brand-new moon rocket after the booster splashed into the Atlantic Ocean at the end of a test flight this week.

The damage to the new Ares I-X rocket, which launched from Florida Wednesday on a short test flight, was spotted by a diving team sent to recover the booster's first stage. The first stage — a giant solid rocket booster — was dented near its base.

NASA spokesperson Amber Philman told that the space agency is still awaiting word on what may have caused the damage.

Read the story, HERE.

Video of LCROSS panel at SETI Institute

Tony Colaprete, Jennifer Heldmann and Diane Wooden, with results from the LCROSS Lunar Impactor Mission; a Special Panel at the SETI Colloquium Seminar Series.

Friday, October 30, 2009

"More" Moore F impact melt

All of the farside highlands crater Moore F has been photographed at high-resolution since the impact melt of its interior was featured in an LROC release October 30, 2009 (FOV below = yellow arrow) [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
LROC FEATURED IMAGE OCTOBER 30, 2009: Frozen impact melt flows on the floor of Moore F, a farside highlands crater. LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) Nominal Mission observation M110383422LE, LRO orbit 140, October 17, 2009; 600 meter field of view, incidence angle = 41.15° at a resolution of 0.61 meters per pixel from 59.16 kilometers altitude. View the larger original LROC Featured Image HERE [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Jeff Plescia
LROC News System

The crater Moore F (37.4°N, 185°E ~ 23 km) exhibits a spectacular terraced rim and central uplift – a beautiful example of a complex impact structure. Surrounding the central uplift, the crater floor is covered by both frozen impact melt flows and debris. The melt formed as a result of the tremendous energy released in the impact event. As the crater equilibrated, the melt flowed to low spots and slowly cooled. What caused the spectacular curved cracks to form?

Perhaps the crater floor topography changed over time, fracturing the surface of the central melt pond deposit (right side of picture) and opening a series of parallel, arcuate tension (pull-apart) cracks. Or, perhaps as the melt cooled and solidified, the volume change opened the cracks. The LROC featured image on October 21 showed an adjacent portion of this same crater. Over time, LROC will image the whole crater allowing scientists to test these hypotheses and come to a clear understanding of how craters of this size form.

Closer is not necessarily more informative when sorting though the hundreds of LROC Wide Angle Camera (WAC) observations of Moore F crater. For example, in orbit 10090 (August 30, 2011), the LRO spacecraft resolved Moore F from 40.6 kilometers, and at nearly the same illumination as seen above. That field of view can be seen HERE, and considerable processing will be needed to tease more information than what's readily seen from 15 kilometers higher, above.   M158748657CE (604 nm), LRO orbit 8529, April 29, 2011; incidence = 49.73° at 77.235 meters resolution from 55.45 kilometers altitude [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Explore the original LROC Featured Image released October 2009, HERE.

As LRO approaches it's record-breaking third year in lunar orbit, the flood of data continues to allow finer granularity to be refined into what will undoubtedly be our definitive "map" of the Moon for decades to come. Moore F (center, yellow circle) is situated on the opposite side of the Moon from Earth, a place now better understood than the nearside was at the beginning of the 21st century. Wide Angle Camera-derived Digital Elevation Model (128), centered over the equator at its intersection with the 180th meridian [NASA/GSFC/DLR/Arizona State University].

Fire thwarts Mastin in X-Prize round

"Here's the Xoie engine. Sun makes it hard to see but some wires are fried. Also 6in from center #ngllc" - via Twitter & twitpic Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.

John Antczak
Silicon Valley Mercury News

A rocket flew halfway through a simulated lunar landing mission in the Mojave Desert on Thursday before a fire thwarted the attempt to win a $1 million prize.

Masten Space Systems' Xoie, a robotic rocket, took off from a launch pad at Mojave Air & Space Port and flew to another pad where it set down on its legs among large boulders as flame licked up the side.

The fire damaged wires, a tube and insulation but the rocket could be ready to fly as early as Friday, said David Masten, president and chief executive of Masten Space Systems, based in Mojave, Calif.

However, Thursday's effort had been expected to be Masten's last chance and it was unclear if the judges of the NASA-backed Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge would allow another attempt.

Filed report HERE.
Updates from RLV & Space Transport News
Mastin Space Systems Level II Attempt

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview with Ed Ethridge

Interview with Ed Ethridge, at MSFC, from a recent NASA Science Express highlighting steadily advancing research with in-situ resource utilization (ISRU).

Sandeep Ravindran
Popular Science

Last month, scientists confirmed the widespread presence of small amounts of water on the moon. This landmark finding was followed by NASA's crashing its LCROSS probe into a crater in the lunar south pole, generating data which is currently being analyzed to determine the extent of water present around the impact site. Water extracted from the lunar soil could be used to sustain life and to generate rocket propellant. spoke to Ed Ethridge of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, who has been studying how microwaves could be used to extract water from lunar soil.

Why use microwaves?

The thermal conductivity of the moon's soil is very low, which was something that the Apollo astronauts found. So we can't heat the soil just by shining the sun's rays on it, they would just get reflected. The advantage of microwaves is that they penetrate and heat the soil from the inside.

Read the Interview HERE.

'We stand today on the shoulders of giants'

Shelby G. Spires

KSC - For seven minutes at least, there were no politics, no reports and no controversies swirling around space travel.

The Ares I-X - the future of manned space flight to some, a financial impossibility to others - successfully leapt into the air at 10:30 a.m. CDT, taking with it the future of the space agency, as Ares I-X deputy program manager Steve Davis put it after the launch.

"What we do today is really like what Huntsville did with the Mercury-Redstone flights" early in the space program, Davis said. "This is a first. Just like Dr. Wernher von Braun's team did then, our goal is knowledge. We stand today on the shoulders of giants."

Read the story, HERE.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Million-dollar rocket showdown

Masten Space Systems' Xoie rocket was designed to go after a million-dollar prize.

Alan Boyle
Cosmic Log

The climactic rocket showdown for a million-dollar prize from NASA is under way in California's Mojave Desert.

Just as folks at Kennedy Space Center in Florida were celebrating the successful launch of NASA's Ares I-X rocket prototype, Masten Space Systems readied its own Xoie prototype at the Mojave Air and Space Port for its first attempt to win the Level 2 competition in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.

Today Masten was grounded by glitches, but it has another day to go for the prize.

Read the Post HERE.

Apollo 17 from 50 kilometers

Apollo 17 Lunar Module Challenger descent stage comes into focus from the new lower 50-km mapping orbit, full image width is 102 meters [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Exploring the Apollo 17 Site

Mark Robinson
LROC News System

LRO maneuvered into its 50-km mapping orbit on September 15. The next pass over the Apollo 17 landing site resulted in images with more than two times better resolution than previously acquired. At the time of this recent overflight the Sun was high in the sky (28° incidence angle) helping to bring out subtle differences in surface brightness. The descent stage of the lunar module Challenger is now clearly visible, at 50-cm per pixel (angular resolution) the descent stage deck is eight pixels across (four meters), and the legs are also now distinguishable. The descent stage served as the launch pad for the ascent stage as it blasted off for a rendezvous with the command module America on 14 December 1972.

Apollo 17 descent stage as seen from the live television camera that broadcast the crew's departure from Taurus Littrow, shortly after lift off. View is towards the northwest [NASA].

LRO maneuvered into its 50-km mapping orbit on September 15. The next pass over the Apollo 17 landing site resulted in images with more than two times better resolution than previously acquired. At the time of this recent overflight the Sun was high in the sky (28° incidence angle) helping to bring out subtle differences in surface brightness. The descent stage of the lunar module Challenger is now clearly visible, at 50-cm per pixel (angular resolution) the descent stage deck is eight pixels across (four meters), and the legs are also now distinguishable. The descent stage served as the launch pad for the ascent stage as it blasted off for a rendezvous with the command module America on 14 December 1972.

Tracks are clearly visible and can be followed to the east, where astronauts Jack Schmitt and Gene Cernan set up the Surface Electrical Properties (SEP) experiment. Cernan drove the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) in an intersecting north-south and east-west course to mark positions for laying out the SEP thirty-five meter antennas (circle labeled "SEP" marks the area of the SEP transmitter). The dark area just below the SEP experiment is where the astronauts left the rover, in a prime spot for monitoring the liftoff.

The SEP allowed scientists to characterize the electrical properties of the regolith, which are important for interpreting remote sensing measurements of the Moon such as radar and microwave sounders. One interesting direct result of the experiment was the discovery that the soil is extremely dry, with no water hiding below the surface.

Region of Taurus-Littrow valley around the Apollo 17 landing site (Full Release Image) [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

The two explorers were quite busy, as they also deployed a set of sophisticated surface science experiments that radioed data back to the Earth for more than four years after the mission was completed. The Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments (ALSEP) package was a little different for each Apollo mission. The Apollo 17 ALSEP included: 1) Lunar Seismic Profiling Experiment (geophones), 2) Lunar Atmospheric Composition Experiment (LACE) to measure the composition of the Moon's extremely tenuous surface bound exosphere, 3) Lunar Ejecta and Meteorites (LEAM) experiment, 4) central station, 5) Heat Flow Experiment, 6) all powered by a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG). More details on the ALSEP and their results can be found in the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal and the Apollo 17 Preliminary Science Report.

Four times enlargement of area around the Apollo 17 ALSEP [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

The central station was the heart and brain of the ALSEP. It distributed power to all the experiments from the RTG, received commands from the Earth, and transmitted data back to the Earth. In both surface images (below) it is easy to spot the axial-helical antenna (a nearly vertical white rod) on top of the station pointed towards Earth.

The RTG supplied 70-watts of power by converting heat from the decay of plutonium-238.

Try and find all the pieces of the ALSEP in the LROC image enlargement (above). The two annotated surface images (below) will help you orient yourself - as though you were there working alongside Dr. Schmitt and Captain Cernan.

View of the ALSEP looking south-southeast with geophone rock in the background: three other large rocks are keyed to the LROC image (R1, R2, R3). [Apollo 17/NASA]

The background in both surface pictures gives a feel for the rugged terrain that surrounded the astronauts as they explored the valley. The mountains rise 1.5-2 kilometers above the valley floor, which is more relief than you would find at the Grand Canyon in Arizona (USA).

The Challenger descent stage was extensively documented prior to launch and samples of the materials used to make the stage have been preserved at JSC. When human explorers return to Taurus-Littrow, the Challenger will provide vital information about the long-term survival of materials in the lunar environment.

Browse the Full LROC Narrow Angle Camera image, HERE,
and watch the Youtube video.

Image Thursday, 1 October 2009, 10:32:01 UTC
LRO Orbit 1202, Center Coordinates 20.17°N, 30.80°E
(Res. 0.53 m/pix); Mode Native (M109032389LE)

"Apollo 17 Lunar Module Challenger descent stage comes into focus
from the new lower 50 km mapping orbit."
[NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University]

Teamwork credited with Ares I-X launch

NASA's Constellation program's Ares I-X test rocket roars off Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center [NASA/Jim Grossmann].

Outstanding teamwork was the theme of the Ares I-X postlaunch news conference as the successful flight test was discussed.

"I can't say enough about this team," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "They've been together probably a little over three years now, and they went from a concept to flying this vehicle in that period of time, which is the first time this has been done by a human spaceflight team in a long time."

Referring to the weather, which was the only issue of the day, Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley said, "We were ready when Mother Nature was ready, and we took our opportunity and what a great outcome. We're very proud of the result."

"It was a spectacular day," said Bob Ess, Ares I-X mission manager. "The vehicle flew even better than we expected."

"It is just a fantastic day," said Launch Director Ed Mango. "The team really excelled. I can't say enough about the folks who worked together to go make this thing happen. It was a great team, and as you can tell, it was a great vehicle."

NASA's Ares I-X test rocket lifted off at 11:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a two-minute powered flight. The flight test lasted about six minutes from its launch from the newly modified Launch Pad 39B until splashdown of the rocket's booster stage nearly 150 miles downrange.

More on the Skylight at Marius Hills

Terrain Camera on-board JAXA lunar orbiter Kaguya (SELENE-1) captured data formulated into this image showing what appears to be an approximately 65 meter-wide 'Skylight,' extending down at least 90 meters deep among the domes and rima of Marius Hills (12°N, 306°E) in Oceanus Procellarum [ISAS/JAXA/Junichi Haruyama et al.].

Rachel Courtland
New Scientist

A deep hole on the moon that could open into a vast underground tunnel has been found for the first time. The discovery strengthens evidence for subsurface, lava-carved channels that could shield future human colonists from space radiation and other hazards.

The moon seems to possess long, winding tunnels called lava tubes that are similar to structures seen on Earth. They are created when the top of a stream of molten rock solidifies and the lava inside drains away, leaving a hollow tube of rock.

Their existence on the moon is hinted at based on observations of sinuous rilles – long, winding depressions carved into the lunar surface by the flow of lava. Some sections of the rilles have collapsed, suggesting that hollow lava tubes hide beneath at least some of the rilles.

But until now, no one has found an opening into what appears to be an intact tube. "There's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem," says Carolyn van der Bogert of the University of Münster in Germany. "If it's intact, you can't see it."

Finding a hole in a rille could suggest that an intact tube lies beneath. So a group led by Junichi Haruyama of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency searched for these "skylights" in images taken by Japan's Kaguya spacecraft, which orbited the moon for almost two years before ending its mission in June.

Deep cave

The team found the first candidate skylight in a volcanic area on the moon's near side called Marius Hills. "This is the first time that anybody's actually identified a skylight in a possible lava tube" on the moon, van der Bogert, who helped analyse the feature, told New Scientist.

The hole measures 65 meters across, and based on images taken at a variety of sun angles, the the hole is thought to extend down at least 80 meters. It sits in the middle of a rille, suggesting the hole leads into a lava tube as wide as 370 meters across.

It is not clear exactly how the hole formed. A meteorite impact, moonquakes, or pressure created by gravitational tugs from the Earth could be to blame. Alternatively, part of the lava tube's ceiling could have been pulled off as lava in the tube drained away billions of years ago.

Radiation shield

Finding such an opening could be a boon for possible human exploration of the moon. Since the tubes may be hundreds of meters wide, they could provide plenty of space for an underground lunar outpost. The tubes' ceilings could protect astronauts from space radiation, meteoroid impacts and wild temperature fluctuations.

"I think it's really exciting," says Penny Boston of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. "Basalt is an extremely good material for radiation protection. It's free real estate ready to be exploited and modified for human use."
Blocked passage?

But even if astronauts were to rappel into the hole, they might not be able to travel far into the tube it appears to lead into. "I would bet a lot of money that there's a tube there, but I would not bet nearly so much that we could gain access to the tube," says Ray Hawke of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who has also hunted for lunar lava tubes.

Rubble or solidified lava might block up the tube. "It could be closed up and inaccessible," Hawke told New Scientist.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which should be able to snap images of the area that are at least 10 times as sharp, could help reveal more about the hole. And more lava tube openings may be found.

The Kaguya team is still combing over images of other areas in search of additional skylights. And Hawke says a proposal is in the works to use LRO's main camera to snap oblique shots of the lunar surface. This could help reveal cave entrances that are not visible in a bird's-eye view.

eSpace calls for space entrepreneurs

eSpace: The Center for Space Entrepreneurship, a non-profit business incubator and workforce development organization for aerospace companies, today announced that it is seeking a second round of aerospace entrepreneurs to participate in the eSpace incubator. The move reflects the industry`s demand for eSpace services as well as the success of the incubator model created by eSpace and its potential for replication to cultivate space entrepreneurs in other regions of the country.

By opening its first center in Colorado, eSpace has placed itself in the middle of the nation`s second largest aerospace economy. The demand for eSpace and space entrepreneurs in Colorado is highlighted by the following statistics, furnished by the Colorado Space Coalition.

Read the details, HERE.

Space exploration on the plains

Members and leaders of Louisburg Boy Scout Troop 101 visited the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson on Oct. 16-18. They are (front to back, left to right) Ryan Cottrell, Jerod Bond, Spencer Rogers, Willie Cardwell, Tristen King and Eric Aye, leader Frank Burrow, Chase Green, Tyler Burrow, T.J. Smith, Tyler DeForest, Spencer Bowman, and leader Steve King. Following their tour, the Scouts visited the area’s expansive salt mines, where they camped for the night.

Aaron Cedeño
Louisburg Herald

Marisa Honomichl knows that most people probably don’t expect to find one of the world’s premier air and space museums lying in the heart of central Kansas.

But, to her mind, that just makes the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson all the more unique.

“It is a surprise, it’s a big surprise,” said Honomichl, the Cosmosphere’s vice president of marketing and development. “And it’s an escape. It’s a place where (visitors) can go and have their imagination take off for them for a day, and it’s a totally unexpected experience.”

Recently, local Boy Scout Troop 101 engaged in that experience for a weekend, with a camping expedition to Hutchinson. Leaving on Oct. 16 and returning on Oct. 18, the collection of Louisburg youth – and several parents – toured the Cosmosphere, launched model rockets, and spent the evening of Oct. 17 camping in the region’s famous underground salt mines.

Read the Story, HERE.

Russian space chief proposes nuclear spaceship

Russia's space agency chief is proposing to build a new spaceship with a nuclear engine.

Anatoly Perminov told a government meeting Wednesday that the preliminary design could be ready by 2012. He said it will then take nine more years and 17 billion rubles (about $600 million or 400 million euros) to build the ship.

Read the story HERE.

Ares I-X flight test carried forward

Rising into the Florida sky, the 327-foot rocket thunders away from the launch pad, marking the first time a new vehicle has launched from the complex since the first space shuttle launch in 1981.

The mission will last two minutes, during which constant data received from the rocket.

At about the T+2 minute point in the flight, the upper stage simulator and first stage will separate at approximately 130,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The unpowered simulator will splash down in the ocean. The first stage will be fired for a controlled ocean landing with parachutes that will allow recovery by one of NASA's booster recovery ships, while the other ship tracks the upper stage.

Paul Spudis: Caves on the Moon

The science team of the Japanese Kaguya mission have just published a paper claiming to have found an opening to a cave on the Moon. Such a discovery is a potentially important development for future lunar habitation. Lava tubes are large caves created during the volcanic eruption of a very fluid, highly effusive lava. They are common on Earth, especially in iron-rich basaltic lavas, such as those that make up most of the Hawaiian islands.

The idea that caves occur on the Moon has been around for a long time. We have long known that the lunar maria (the dark, smooth, relatively uncratered plains of the Moon) are made up of old basaltic lava flows. Looking at orbital photographs, we find many narrow, winding channels (or rilles) in the maria. These channels cannot be the product of water erosion, as flowing liquid water cannot exist in the vacuum of the lunar surface. So workers looked for another explanation. They found it in lava channels and tubes.

The cobra head of Rima Birt, a far smaller version of the more familiar feature on Aristarchus Plateau, in southeastern Mare Nubium. Rupes Recta, "the straight wall," and the crater Birt can be seen in the background of this image constructed from data collected by the Terrain Camera on-board Japan's Kaguya lunar orbiter. [JAXA/SELENE/LP]

On Earth, volcanic terrains often show small channels within young lava flows. Lava tubes form when hot lava erupts, pouring out onto the surface. The lava immediately begins to cool, with the outermost edges cooling first. As the lava cools and hardens from the outside edges inward, the flow of still-molten lava becomes constricted to a central, narrow, interior conduit. When the eruption stops, the still-liquid lava drains out, leaving behind an empty cave-like tube-shaped segment. In some instances, the roof of the drained tube collapses, exposing the tube interior as a channel or, if less extensive, creating a “skylight” or a hole that allows access to the cave interior. Lava caves are quite common on volcanoes made up of runny (low viscosity) lava, such as the shield volcanoes of Hawaii.

Caves found on the Moon would be very useful. Because they form in dense basaltic lava, the space inside a tube is protected from both the hard radiation of the lunar surface and the constant micrometeorite bombardment the Moon experiences. Moreover, the temperature of the subsurface of the Moon is very stable; below the zone which experiences the extreme temperatures of night and day, lunar temperatures are fairly constant at about -20° C. On Earth, lava caves can be quite roomy, with diameters tens of meters across and hundreds of meters long. On the Moon, these dimensions may be much larger – the low gravity of the Moon results in much bigger lunar lava tubes and channels than their terrestrial counterparts, being hundreds of meters across and many kilometers long. Thus, they offer many potential advantages to future lunar inhabitants.

Before we pack our bags for the Marius Hills, we should take note of some other properties of lava tubes. Many lava tubes partly or completely collapse immediately after their formation. If the roofed segments are weakened by flowing lava, earthquakes, or are very thin, they cannot support their own weight and after the lava drains out, the roof falls into the void. This is seen on both the Earth and Moon. Hadley Rille, visited by the Apollo 15 astronauts in 1971, is a lava channel, parts of which were roofed over as a tube. The crew landed near a channel portion, but a roofed segment is only about 12 km from the site. High resolution images of that segment show no entrance to an underground cave there or elsewhere along the rille (channel). That doesn’t mean that there is no cave portion of Hadley Rille, but it does suggest there is no entrance to a cave there.

Other candidates on the Moon look more promising. Numerous lava tube “skylights” have been noted in association with many lava channels on the Moon. These skylights are typically unconnected to each other or any nearby feature and are found as individual tube segments that appear to start and stop along the trend of a rille. It is impossible to identify lava cave entrances because most of the images we have for these features are low resolution and have near-vertical viewing geometry.

The new Kaguya pictures show a circular, rimless pit on the floor of the projected segment of a rille. Collapse pits are not uncommon on the Moon and many of them are not associated with lava channels or tubes. So while the new Kaguya images are intriguing, they are not definitive evidence for a cave.

There are other issues in regard to the use of lunar lava tubes. Many (if not most) terrestrial lava tubes are not void; they are either filled with late-stage lava, which plugs up the cave, or by collapse debris, which buries it. Finding a new void lava tube is celebrated by the caving community simply because void tubes are rare. But even if a void tube formed on the Moon, it may not remain that way for all time. Lunar volcanism was active over 3 billion years ago. Since then the Moon has been constantly bombarded by debris, initiating landslides, infilling craters, and generating seismic waves. Such a bombardment could well act as a leveler to collapse and fill in void lava caves that might have existed on the Moon.

But the biggest problem with lunar caves is even more fundamental – they aren’t where we want them. Sustained human presence on the Moon is enabled by the presence of the material and energy resources needed to support human life and operations around the Moon. After over a decade of study and exploration, we now know that these locations are near the poles of the Moon. Unfortunately, both poles are in the highlands and finding a lava tube in such non-volcanic terrain is highly unlikely, regardless of the imaginative ramblings of certain science-fiction authors. If a lunar cave were present there, we would certainly consider using it. But it makes no more sense to locate a lunar base near the caves, than it does to build a water-park in the Sahara desert.

The formation of lunar lava tubes and caves is an interesting scientific topic, but their utilitarian value is uncertain, at least until we have established a permanent presence on the Moon. Ultimately, we may be able to use them to live on the Moon, but first, we need to follow the Willie Sutton principle and go where the money is.

Australian astronaut says Ares test 'could help put tourists on the Moon by 2020'

Carly Crawford

The test launch of Ares I-X, now expected to take place Wednesday morning, will deliver NASA vital technical information that could help set up a manned space station on the moon within a decade. Australian astronaut Andy Thomas says the groundbreaking booster test could help put tourists on the moon by 2020.

Thomas, 58, said moves towards commercial funding for NASA could mean tourists would have the chance to experience space soon after professional astronauts arrived on the moon.

"Once we have that kind of commercial activity, it's inevitable that we'll see space tourism," he said.

He said existing space tourism – such as the kind promoted by Virgin boss Richard Branson – was not true space exploration.

"What he's doing is really high altitude aircraft," Adelaide-born Thomas said.

A high-level US government review of NASA's human space program last week suggested using private money to send astronauts into space.

"It is very much in the interest of the US to commercialize access to low Earth orbit," he said.

Thomas was aware of a select few entrepreneurs and financing firms that had flagged their interest in sponsoring space programs with the US government.

If skies clear at Cape Canaveral the $382 million Ares I-X will blast off on a two-and-a-half-minute flight designed to test a new five-segment Solid Rocket Booster and a controversial configuration hopefully settling disputes about possible crew-threatening thrust oscillation.

A presidential panel last week supported the Ares I-X test flight, but questioned the need to use the Ares I rocket, part of the Constellation program. The panel questioned the cost and design of the craft as well as its necessity.

Piloting a lunar rover

At NASA Ames Research Center, in Mountain View, CA two K10 rovers navigate a lunar-like landscape. The K10 program is designed to help NASA do more advanced surveys and surveillance of the moon, and for the time being, the robots are being deployed in a series of similar environments across the planet. [Daniel Terdiman/CNET]

Daniel Terdiman
CNET news

MOUNTAIN VIEW (NASA ARC) - For a few minutes Thursday, as I steered one of NASA's K10 intelligent robots across a small field of rocky, sandy terrain, I could almost imagine myself piloting the rover across the surface of Mars or the moon.

Until, that is, I realized I had pretty much no idea what I was doing, and saw that my struggles to steer the rover forward were actually sending it backward. Given that this little robot is worth at least as much as a mid-range Mercedes, I was relieved to see the eagle-eyed scientist standing a few feet away from it as it approached a group of large rocks that could send it sprawling, a switch in his hand capable of stopping it dead in its tracks.

I was spending the afternoon at NASA's Ames Research Center here, talking with Terry Fong, the director of the Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG), about the K10 rover program--an initiative designed for remote scouting operations on the moon or Mars. To be sure, the program has been around for a few years, but Fong and his team are constantly tweaking the robots, and so what I got my hands on Thursday (remotely, at least) was a great deal more sophisticated than would have been the case just a few years ago.
Read the Story and view the Video HERE.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Living in Lunar Lava Tubes

Amidst the Marius Hills, which might have been a landing site for Apollo 18 if that mission had not been defunded in 1971, a much-studied region of the lunar surface where a "skylight" was uncovered by Japan's Kaguya lunar orbiter. [ISAS/JAXA/Junichi Haruyama et al./Discovery]

Ian O'Neill
Discovery Space

One of the key questions when we eventually return to the Moon will be: where are we going to live? Perhaps one solution has just presented itself in the form of a hole in the lunar surface, possibly leading to a hollow lava tube. This natural formation is known as a "skylight" and up until now little was known about where they are located and how many there are.

A Japanese team headed by Junichi Haruyama has analyzed data from the JAXA Kaguya mission to find these holes in the ground, and after two years of searching, they've found one in the Marius Hills region of the Earth-facing side of the Moon. The skylight is approximately 60 meters wide and it provides a tantalizing glimpse into what could be a future target for manned lunar exploration.

Carolyn van der Bogert, a co-investigator from University of Münster in Germany, has kindly taken the time to answer a few questions from Discovery News about this fascinating skylight and what it could mean to the future of lunar exploration.

Read the Feature Interview HERE.
More on the Marius Hills, HERE.

The Floor of Saha E

Diverse textures on the floor of Saha E on the lunar farside. Image width is 402 meter swath of a full image 1.08 kilometers in width [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Brent Garry
LROC News System

The lava-like melt produced by impacts on the Moon can have a variety of morphologies. The polygonal texture you see here is located on the floor of crater Saha E, a 28 km diameter crater east of Mare Smythii. This texture could be the result of impact melt coating boulders and other deposits on the floor of the crater. From the perspective of exploration planning, impact melt deposits are scientifically interesting because they can be used to age-date impacts. Impact melts can also contain geochemical traces of the original impact, and often contain small fragments of the original pre-impact target rocks. LROC will be providing high-resolution images of many other fresh, relatively undegraded craters to document the complex aftermath of impact events as well as to define targets for future human lunar exploration.

Browse the whole NAC image.

Ares I-X team aims for second try Wednesday

The Ares I-X launch team is preparing for a 24-hour turnaround, targeting 8 a.m. on Wednesday as liftoff time for the Ares I-X flight test vehicle.

Tuesday's attempt was plagued by weather issues, even though the vehicle itself was ready to fly. After multiple attempts to reset to new launch times during the 4-hour window, the final scrub came when the weather did not improve as the end of the window neared. Tomorrow's weather improves somewhat, with a 40 percent "no-go."

Wednesday's attempt will have the same 4-hour window that ends at noon, and live coverage will also begin again at 5 a.m. EDT.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Governors announce The Aerospace Alliance

Governors of Alabama and Mississippi announce a today plans for “The Aerospace Alliance” part of a four-state region from NASA Stennis in Mississippi to Panama City in Florida.

"The mission of The Aerospace Alliance will be to establish the Gulf Coast as a world class aerospace, space and aviation corridor," according to a press release from Alabama Governor Bob Riley, and "members will include business leaders, economic development professionals and government officials."

Riley announced the group at Faulkner State Community College in Bay Minette, Alabama to make the announcement Monday afternoon.He will be joined by a host of economic development and business leaders, including representatives from Northrop Grumman and EADS North America.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour appeared at the vvenus via satellite.

“I am excited about the possibility of regional collaboration and growth,” Jim Kellen, executive director of the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council said. “This is a real positive thing.”

New head of ISRO praised by Nair

(PTI) Expressing confidence in the future of India's space program under ISRO new chief, K. Radhakrishnan, outgoing chairman G. Madhavan Nair says his successor will carry forward the agency's plans, including eventually a manned mission.

"He is a talented, highly competent scientist who brings with him the experience of having been with the Indian Space Research Organisation for 35 years. He will move our plans drawn up for the years 2020 through 2025," Nair told reporters with Radhakrishnan by his side.

Radhakrishnan, currently the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSE) in Thiruvananthapuram leaves to begin his new job as head of ISRO in Bangalore. Nair is now new chairman of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

According to MSN/India, Radhakrishnan is a "man who believes in the co-existence of spirituality and science," and "got his appointment letter in a very unusual manner. He received a fax when he was on a pilgrimage to the Sri Krishna temple in Guruvayoor.

"The letter was faxed to the temple office as Radhakrishnan was weighing himself against huge heap of bananas - a ritual that is famous in the temple.e new chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)" and Dr. Radhakrishnan is "not just an expert in avionics and space science, but also an avid fan and follower of kathakali, the Kerala style of traditional dance that praises the gods, the moon, the stars and the universe at large. He is also known for his knowledge in Carnatic music."

A Vision briefly becomes reality

It's been the subject of artist's impressions so often the actual sight of an Ares I-X towering over Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center might seem an anticlimax.

Nevertheless, as Robert Block of the Orlando Sentinel's The Wright Stuff rightly points this morning to a treatment of the real thing by "storied and award-winning photojournalist Red Huber," who "has taken a fantastic series of pictures of Aries I-X" at KSC.

"The rocket is due to lift off on its 28-mile, two minute suborbital journey on Tuesday at 8 a.m. though the weather may not cooperate. NASA managers can wait until Noon Tuesday before having to stand down to try again on Wednesday."

Although the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, chaired by Norm Augustine, is not being celebrated for its few very specific recommendations, among their actual recommendation released last week is to scrap the Ares I as America's next humans-only rocket.

The Augustine committee also sees no way to avoid at least a seven-year gap in NASA's manned spaceflight capability after the Space Shuttle is grounded a year from now.

Anyway you look at it, it may be while before any notion of America's future manned spaceflight capability actually presents itself as a sight "to steal your breath away."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paul Spudis: Paradigms Lost

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. – Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

In his famous book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn described two types of science: normal science, the everyday background work, where constant, steady but unspectacular advances occur in our knowledge, and revolutionary science, where fundamental assumptions and ways of conducting business are unalterably changed forever. Kuhn called such a change a paradigm shift; a new paradigm (i.e., a framework of knowledge, including the assumptions, worldview, approaches and techniques to conduct business under a given set of circumstances) replaces the existing one and the new approaches and attitudes become the norm.

The paradigm model might also be applied to conducting business in other fields, in particular, the business of spaceflight. Since it arose more than 50 years ago, the paradigm of spaceflight has largely remained unchanged. In short, we conceive a mission (robotic or human), then design, build and launch a spacecraft to conduct that mission. This satellite or spacecraft operates for a time in space—gathering information or providing a service—until it breaks down or becomes obsolete and is abandoned. We then imagine the next mission—going back to the drawing board to design the next spacecraft—a process repeated continuously and a major cost of space exploration.

Is a paradigm shift – a “revolution” in space travel possible? One would think that with 50 years of experience under our belts, we would have already exhausted all the possibilities. Indeed, the imminent development of warp drive or “Cavorite” does not seem likely, but then, that’s the nature of truly revolutionary breakthroughs, isn’t it? On the other hand, is there something missing – something that could be done right now using existing knowledge to change the rules of spaceflight and possibly spur additional breakthroughs?

As long as we’re chained to the existing spaceflight paradigm, we must continue hauling from Earth everything we need in space. For human missions this includes all the air, water and other consumables needed for life support. The cost to lift all this mass (which includes the weight of a massive amount of fuel needed to escape from Earth’s very deep gravity well) is budget busting. So for “normal” space exploration, costs will never be lower except at the margins and we will always be mass-limited in space. And when you are mass-limited, you are capability-limited as well.

I’ve argued here and elsewhere that there is a method that is already well understood in principle, but its practical application and viability is completely unknown. If we could use what we find in space to create new capabilities, we would change the rules of spaceflight, thereby ushering in a true paradigm shift in space travel.

Such was the original intent of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). The desire for fundamental change in perspective was behind the program’s specific direction to study and experiment with using the material and energy resources of the Moon. From the moment it was announced, the true purpose of a lunar return was misunderstood, both inadvertently and deliberately. Constellation is a rocket program; the VSE is not.

No one knows if using space resources is possible but we can find out by pursuing innovative technology. In theory it works. We’ve never attempted high-risk mining on the Moon and it may have significant practical difficulties but potentially, it could become a highly leveraging activity.

If we can extract and make rocket propellant on the Moon, we can create a completely reusable, refuelable transportation infrastructure in cislunar space. If we can extract the oxygen and hydrogen, we can live in space. Of course, such an outcome would change and transform the business model of space—something that fascinates and attracts many but repels others and hence, its mixed reception in aerospace circles.

This would truly be a revolution, a paradigm shift in the same sense as we understand it from Kuhn’s description of scientific progress; as a vast new expanse is opened to us and we are free to move about the universe, the world changes and things are never the same again.

In order to mitigate risk and to ensuring our economic and national security, government often steps in to develop technology that the private sector cannot or will not take on. A government push to learn how to use the resources of space will break the cycle of launch and discard. Instead of having a short “shelf-life,” our indispensable and unprotected systems in space become maintainable, reusable, extensible and affordable.

While reading the newly released Augustine report, keep in mind its background and its assumptions. It is based solidly on the traditional models of conducting business in space – design, launch and abandon, along with the accompanying plea for more money to ensure a “robust” program of space exploration.

As long as such assumptions prevail, advances never will.

Greason: It's time to base U.S. space policy on the "truth"

Robert Block
The Write Stuff
The Orlando Sentinel

"Jeff Greason is a founder of XCOR Aerospace company, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and one of the most outspoken members of the White House’s Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee. He has said that the committee work took up about 90 hours a week since it was created last May to take hard look at NASA’s human exploration plans. He spoke to Sentinel Space Editor Robert Block by telephone from New Mexico shortly after the committee report was released in Washington on Thursday."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Impact Melt at Epigenes A

A plethora of boulders surrounds braided flows of impact melt along the inside wall of crater Epigenes A. As the melt moves toward the crater floor (direction indicated by white arrow), the flow buries and moves boulders. Epigenes A is a 18 km diameter crater located at 66.9°N and 0.3°W on the rim of crater W. Bond. The NAC image is 216 meters wide [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Sarah Braden
LROC News System

Within the Crater Epigenes A there are a remarkable variety of impact melt features. Impact melt is common and occurs when energy released by an impact causes rocks and regolith in the target to melt. Impact melts form small particles, known as impact melt spherules, or large, smooth pools and sheets of melt that coalesce in low areas within the crater. While the material is molten it behaves like lava, flowing down-slope. Emplacement of the melt is thought to occur during the excavation and modification stages of crater formation. An outward surge of impact melt (possibly caused by the collapse of the central uplift) falls on the rim, wall, and ejecta blanket of the impact crater and then gravity pulls the melt downward during the modification stage of the impact crater's formation.

Impact melt (dark material) flowed around and over rocky outcrops on the upper portion of the crater wall. The white arrow points to the crater floor. The initial outward surge of material during the excavation of the crater threw impact melt near the rim and then gravity pulled the melt downward during the modification stage of the impact. The image is 216 meters wide [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Thin impact melt deposits are especially vulnerable to erosion on Earth, however, the Moon lacks erosive agents like wind and water, so the lunar surface is an excellent place to study impact melts.

Browse the whole NAC image.

Friday, October 23, 2009

X-37 scheduled for launch, again

Artist's concept of the X-37 Advanced Technology Demonstrator, gliding to landing. Its design features a rounded fuselage topped by an experiment bay; short, double delta wings and twin stabilizers forming a "V" at the vehicle's aft. [NASA/Dryden (1999)]

Leonard David

"There is an air of vagueness regarding next year's Atlas Evolved Expendable launch of the unpiloted, reusable military space plane. The X-37B will be cocooned within the Atlas rocket's launch shroud — a ride that's far from cheap.

"While the launch range approval is still forthcoming, has learned that the U.S. Air Force has the X-37B manifested for an April 2010 liftoff.

"As a mini-space plane, this Boeing Phantom Works craft has been under development for years. Several agencies have been involved in the effort, NASA as well as the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) and various arms of the U.S. Air Force."

Read the Story, HERE.

Starfighters gain access to KSC runway

A Starfighters CF-104 operating at McDill AFB air show, April 2005. After a "long, long fight," the Tarpon Springs company will no longer need to rehearse a Single-Stage to Orbit space plane notion within the confines of Martin Schweiger's Orbiter Simulator. They will, instead, fly from the main runway originally built for the Space Shuttle at Kennedy Space Center. [Full-Size Image]

Curtis Krueger
St. Petersburg Times

"The Tarpon Springs company, Starfighters, owns four F-104 Starfighter jets, a type of fighter jet once used by the U.S. Air Force and others. NASA said the business will fly jets from the runway as part of its effort to boost the development of private space flights."

Read the story HERE.

"A landmark was achieved in commercial space today when Starfighters, Inc. signed a Cooperative Space Act Agreement with NASA Kennedy Space Center to operate its fleet of Lockheed F-104 Starfighters from the Space Shuttle Landing Facility..."

From the Starfighters, Inc. website.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Augustine Final Report released

The Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, headed by Norm Augustine, released it's final report, Thursday.

The committee, appointed by President Barack Obama, immediately made the report available online in Adobe Reader format.

To get to the Moon, and eventually to Mars will take more money and technology than NASA has in its recurring availability, the committee concludes.

The committee made several recommendations to President Obama and Congress, including continuing the on-going retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, extension of U.S. support for the International Space Station beyond present commitments through 2015 and continued development of Ares V and Orion, though it will become necessary to recognize that these new resources may not be available until 2017.

The panel said it might be an option to scrap Ares 1, though an initial first test of the configuration is now sitting on Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, in favor or using existing boosters for eventual crew support.

A Skylight at Marius Hills

Possible cavern skylight on the Moon, 65 meters in diameter, may be a window onto a subsurface cavern on the Moon. Photographed by the Kaguya Terrain Camera, May 20, 2008, from a larger image of the Marius Hills region of the lunar nearside. [ISAS / JAXA / Junichi Haruyama et al.]

On October 10, Emily Lakdawalla, science and technology coordinator for the Planetary Society, reported on the discovery of "an open pit on the Moon," reported in research for the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) from evidence gathered during the mission of the Kaguya lunar orbiter, "likely a window onto a sublunar world, a skylight into a subsurface cavern."

"Junichi Haruyama, Kazuyuki Hioki, Motomaro Shirao, Tomokatsu Morota, Harald Hiesinger, Carolyn van der Bogert, Hideaki Miyamoto, Akira Iwasaki, Yasuhiro Yokots, Makiko Ohtake, Tsuneo Matsunaga, Seiichi Hara, Shunsuke Nakanotani, and Carlé Pieters describe the feature in a paper now in press in Geophysical Research Letters, entitled "Possible lunar lava tube skylight observed by SELENE cameras."

The Marius Hills of Oceanus Procellarum, in a scene familiar to telescopic observers around 100 hours after First Quarter at local sunrise, when the shallow shields around volcanic vents are briefly visible in sharp relief of long shadows. Volcanism has shaped the topography of the wider region in distinctive ways. To the north, Aristarchus Plateau seems directly connected to the morphology of these vents, which seem in turn connected to the bright albedo and strong magnetic field of Reiner Gamma, to the southwest. Some or all of those implied interconnections may actually be under the lunar surface [Mario Weiland, Celestron C14-XLT, January 8, 2009].

The Marius formation is high among the fifty future science targets, areas of interest and possible landing sites for direct exploration, just as they were for Apollo. In fact, had Apollo 13 been able to land at Fra Mauro, Marius might well have been the eventual landing site of Apollo 17, rather than Taurus Littrow. In 2008, Japan's Kaguya swept up the region with its High Definition Television camera [HDTV-027-l, JAXA/NHK/SELENE].

Volcanism clearly played a role in the formation of the Moon. The basins of the near side testify to the flow of molten material superheated by kinetic energy released by massive basin-forming impacts.

Perhaps because of a running debate about the origin of the Moon's craters, one that continued well into the Apollo Era, the role of volcanism seems to have been more understated after the dispute seemed to have been resolved around the time of the manned landings. However, a proper and more circumspect fit for volcanism is the scheme of lunar morphology has gradually emerged in the years after, not the least because of direct evidence gathered by the chance observations by a the only geologist ever to do field work on the Moon.

Though long suspected, the discovery reported by Lakwallada would be more direct evidence many sinuous rilles seen on the lunar surface became visible only after flows subsided and ceilings collapsed, probably due to high or persistent but low magnitude moonquakes, or both.

"Lava flow protection of underlying material and structure has been documented on the Moon," wrote Dr. Harrison Schmitt, the only geologist ever to do field work on the lunar surface. He offered his observations during an online discussion of the recent discovery in the Marius Hills.

"For example," Schmitt wrote, "the very old, uncontaminated orange pyroclastics at Shorty Crater, and, by implication, uncontaminated green pyroclastics sampled by Apollo 15."

"One other consideration," Schmitt added, was "a sharp decrease in mechanical strength at depth, which may be the cause of the small, highly exaggerated pit-bottomed impact craters I reported (at) Taurus-Littrow. This might happen on the much larger scale being reported, a lava flow over a deeper regolith unit, provided that the abstract's statement, that "there are (not) conspicuous deposits indicating volcanic eruptions from the hole..." also means it's certain that no ejecta rim or blanket exists around the hole."

Though there are rilles and domes and other apparent results from lava flow, aside from flooded basins, throughout the lunar surface, there are few better place for an initial look for this handiwork than the broad surroundings of the Marius region within Oceanus Procellarum.

Procellarum basin itself, of course, was inundated more than once, as impacts, like mighty Imbrium nearby, ultimately erased more than half its original rim. That basin's extent, its true size and its ancient origins are still disputed.

Later impacts might well have caused eruptions and fountains of molten material along a network of wrinkles, rilles and underground connections that seems to run at least from Mons Rumker in the North, tied in someway to Aristarchus Plateau, and, in turn, even to the Reiner Gamma albedo and magnetic anomaly that begins amidst the Marius Domes.

Lunar Orbiter II-213-M, as recently reconstructed from original taped transmissions by the Lunar Orbiter Image Restoration Project (LOIRP).

For the full story and implications to future manned exploration on the Moon, read Lakdawalla's posting on the Planetary Society Blog, HERE.

Shelby calls Augustine panel 'worthless'

Robert Block
The Write Stuff
Orlando Sentinel

Senator Richard Shelby launched a preemptive strike on President Barack Obama's blue ribbon space panel the day before it was due to release its final report, calling the committee’s findings “worthless.”

Shelby, a staunch defender of NASA’s Marshal Space Flight Center In Huntsville, Ala., said in a Senate floor speech that the committee failed to consider safety when it ranked various rocket options for the White House to consider.

“Without an honest and thorough examination of the safety and reliability aspects of the various designs and options for manned space flight, the findings of this report are worthless,” said Shelby.

The speech sets the stage of what is expected to be a fierce fight between some members of Congress and the White House over the future of human space exploration.

Read the Post, HERE.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bright Boulder Trail

High-albedo marks on the lunar surface
left by a boulder bouncing down the northeast wall of farside highlands crater Moore F. Image width is 240 meters [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Samuel Lawrence
LROC News System

Impacts can cause both subtle and profound changes to the lunar surface. In this subarea of LROC NAC frame M110383422R, you see the trail of a small (3 meter diameter) boulder that after getting dislodged (probably by a small meteorite impact) bounced down the northeast rim of Moore F, a 25 km diameter crater located in the farside highlands. What is interesting about this scene is that as the boulder bounced down the rim, its contact with the lunar surface kicked up and sprayed fresh, high-albedo highlands material outwards, leaving a clear trail at least part of the way down the rim of Moore F. Fresh, high-albedo materials on the lunar surface darken over time as they are exposed to the space environment. A key question in lunar geology is how fast does this space weathering process take? Does it take hundreds of millions or just millions of years for a surface to mature and darken? Do very thin deposits mature faster than thick deposits (think ejecta vs. rays). Answering that question will have important ramifications for our geologic interpretations elsewhere on the lunar surface. Having future human explorers of this region collect samples of these high-albedo soils would provide useful information about the timescale of the space weathering processes.

Browse the whole NAC image.