The Sky at Night “Destination Moon” 9 May 2022: Monday on BBC Four
2022 marks the fiftieth year since an astronaut last stepped on the moon’s surface. We look back at the legacy of the Apollo programme and forward to the future of lunar exploration. Maggie and Chris visit the Science Museum in London, where Maggie discovers from space curator Doug Millard that one of the museum’s star attractions – Apollo 10’s command module – nearly did not make it back to Earth.
Chris discovers that Nasa’s latest assault on the moon, the ‘Artemis’ programme, plans to set up an orbiting moon station and a shuttle from it to a permanent base on the moon’s surface, and learns from Nasa’s Dana Hurley that much of the technology needed for such a mission has yet to be invented. Nonetheless, the first dry run for the SLS rocket and the Orion command capsule and moon landing system will go ahead without a crew and is planned later this year. On that first mission to orbit the moon, 13 tiny ‘cubesats’ will be released into the moon’s orbit to discover more about the lunar surface in anticipation of greater future human activity on the moon. These low-cost satellites are providing the next generation of space scientists and engineers an opportunity to work on spacecraft for the first time.
Maggie talks to Craig Hardgrove, an associate professor from Arizona State University, who leads a relatively inexperienced team in building LunaH-Map. The pint-sized craft will scan the lunar surface for evidence of hydrogen, and therefore water, which will be enormously useful for future missions and moon bases to provide sustenance and fuel – once the technology is in place to deliver it.
Pete Lawrence is on hand for tips on how best to observe the moon from Earth during the upcoming lunar eclipse on the 16 May, and Chris learns from Professor Sara Russell of the Natural History Museum that the Apollo missions allowed science to identify moon asteroids here on Earth, and that future missions retrieving more moon rock might tell us even more about how the Earth formed and how life emerged.
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About The Sky at Night
Your monthly journey through the fascinating world of space and astronomy with the latest thinking on what’s out there in space and what you can see in the night sky.
This show is broadcast on BBC Four, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.
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