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March 30 – April 5, 2020 / Vol 39, No 13 / Hawai`i Island, USA

27 Mar 2020, 20:45 UTC
March 30 – April 5, 2020 / Vol 39, No 13 / Hawai`i Island, USA
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Moon and Mars 2020 Exploration on Surface and in Orbit

Currently, the sole operating presence of humanity (via robotic proxy) on the Moon surface consists of Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu-2 rover. Communications relay Queqiao, in L2 point halo orbit, provides line of sight vantage to Earth – necessary for communication. Selenocentric orbit is somewhat more populated: NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter continues to map surface features in three dimensions. ARTEMIS P1 and P2, formerly THEMIS B and C maintain lunar orbit, monitoring solar weather and its interaction with Earth magnetosphere. Chang’e 5-T1 service module has maintained a Lissajous orbit while testing maneuvers which will be executed by (top) lunar sample return Chang’e-5, set to launch from Wenchang SLC in Hainan in 2020 with mission of bringing 1-2 kg of regolith back to Earth. The most recent addition to the array of functioning artificial satellites around the Moon is Chandrayaan-2, which has mapped landing sites and areas of interest from lunar polar orbit since September. Further out in the Solar System, NASA’s stationary lander Insight and rover Curiosity continue to gather seismic and environmental data from the Martian surface, while 6 craft observe from orbit of the Red Planet: NASA Mars Odyssey, ...

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