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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been dominating the news cycle lately. Amid tragic stories about rocket strikes, stalled offensives, and possible motives and outcomes, there’s been an ongoing “war of words” on social media. In particular, Dmitry Rogozin, the Director-General of the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos), has been issuing thinly-veiled threats that Russia might be terminating its cooperation in space.

This included a video posted on Telegram by the state-controlled Russian news agency RIA Novosti that shows the Russian modules detaching from the International Space Station (ISS). In response to all the threats and hyperbole, NASA decided to host an FAQ session where they posted commonly-asked questions about the ISS In what is eerily reminiscent of what happened in 2014, NASA let the world know that the ISS is still going strong and won’t be decommissioned anytime soon!

While the FAQ session does not address statements made by Rogozin directly, it tacitly acknowledges and answers them strategically. For example, NASA addressed the nature of the ISS partnership, which nations are involved*, how astronauts will continue to fly to the ISS if one space agency no longer provides launch services, and the plan for decommissioning the station.

*Member states include NASA, Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Russian gov’t-controlled RIA Novosti @rianru posted a video on Telegram made by @Roscosmos where cosmonauts say goodbye to Mark Vande Hei on #ISS, depart, and then the Russian segment detaches from the rest of ISS. @Rogozin is clearly threatening the ISS program. #NASA #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/fj2coK1xR1

— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) March 5, 2022

First and foremost, they stress that one cannot simply disassemble the ISS by detaching its modules. This was a direct challenge to the video posted by RIA Novosti and the way it depicted cosmonauts sealing their modules and leaving like it was no big deal. Says NASA:

“The space station was not designed to be disassembled, and current interdependencies between each segment of the station prevent the U.S. Orbital Segment and Russian Segment from operating independently. Attempts to detach the U.S. Orbital Segment and the Russian Segment would encounter major logistical and safety challenges given the multitude of external and internal connections, the need to control spacecraft attitude and altitude, and software interdependency.”

They then provide a seven-point list detailing how operations are interdependent and who provides what. This includes propulsion and attitude control (Roscosmos), altitude control and orientation (NASA), thrusters and propellant (Roscosmos), solar power (NASA), satellite communications and data transfer between Earth and the station (NASA), life support (both), and mission control (both).

Then there’s the issue of getting to and from the ISS, which they admit is not presently doable. “Each astronaut has custom hardware including a launch and entry suit or a seat liner that is not interchangeable between different models of spacecraft,” they write, adding that transferring from one spacecraft to another would “require a different launch and entry suit that is custom fitted and created on the ground.”

The issue of transportation has been a sore point ever since 2011 when the Space Shuttle’s retirement forced NASA and its partners to rely upon Roscosmos to provide launch services. When Russian forces annexed Crimea in 2014, this dependency became a bone of contention. In response to the U.S. declaring sanctions, Dmitry Rogozin (then-deputy Prime Minister to Dmitry Medvedev) chimed in on Twitter to mock the U.S. and NASA.

“After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline,” he wrote. Musk responded shortly thereafter, tweeting: “Sounds like this might be a good time to unveil the new Dragon Mk 2 spaceship that @SpaceX has been working on w @NASA. No trampoline needed.”

Oh, how history repeats itself! On March 3rd, shortly after President Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, Rogozin took to state television to say that Roscosmos was halting the sale of rocket engines to the U.S. “In a situation like this, we can’t supply the United States with our world’s best rocket engines,” he said. “Let them fly on something else, their broomsticks, I don’t know what.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson responded to The Associated Press, stressing that cooperation between NASA and Roscosmos’ was not in jeopardy, regardless of Rogozin’s statements. “That’s just Dmitry Rogozin. He spouts off every now and then. But at the end of the day, he’s worked with us,” he said. “The other people that work in the Russian civilian space

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Frontier Adventure

Finally, an Explanation for the Moon’s Radically Different Hemispheres

Apollo16 jpg

Pink Floyd was wrong, there is no dark side to the Moon. There is however, a far side. The tidal effects between the Earth and Moon have caused this captured or synchronous rotation. The two sides display very different geographical features; the near side with mare and ancient volcanic flows while the far side displaying craters within craters. New research suggests the Moon has turned itself inside out with heavy elements like titanium returning to the surface. It’s now thought that a giant impact on the far side pushed titanium to the surface, creating a thinner more active near side. 

There have been a number of theories for the formation of the Moon; the capture theory and the accretion theory to name two of them. Perhaps the most accepted theory now is the giant impact theory which suggests Earth was struck by a large object, causing a lot of debris to be ejected into orbit. This material eventually coalesced to form the Moon we know and love today.

In the decades that followed the Apollo missions, scientists studied the rocks returned by the astronauts. The studies revealed that many of the surface rocks contained unexpectedly high concentrations of titanium. More surprisingly was that satellite observations revealed these titanium rich minerals were far more common on the nearside and absent on the far-side. What is known is that the Moon formed fast and hot and would have been covered for a short period in an ocean of molten magma. The magma cooled and solidified forming the Moon’s crust but trapped below was the more dense material including titanium and iron. 

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Sample collection on the surface of the Moon. Apollo 16 astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr. is shown collecting samples with the Lunar Roving Vehicle in the left background. Image: NASA

The dense material should have sunk to greater depths inside the Moon however over the years that followed something strange seems to have happened. The denser material did indeed sink, mixed with mantle but melted and returned to the surface as titanium rich lava flows. Debates have been raging whether this is exactly what happened but a new piece of research by a team at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory offer more details about the process and how the interior of the Moon evolved.

It has already been suggested that the Moon may have suffered a giant impact on the far side causing the heavier elements to be forced over to the near side but the new study highlighted supporting evidence from gravitational anomalies. The team measured tiny variations in the Moon’s gravitational field from data from the GRAIL mission. GRAIL – or Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory – orbited the Moon to create the most accurate gravitational map of the Moon to date. Using GRAIL data the team discovered that titanium-iron oxide minerals had migrated to the near side and sunk to the interior in sheetlike cascades. This was consistent with models suggesting the event occurred more than 4.22 billion years ago. 

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Global map of the Moon, as seen from the Clementine mission, showing the differences between the lunar near- and farside. Credit: NASA.

As paper co-author and LPL associate professor Jeff Andrews-Hanna said “The moon is fundamentally lopsided in every respect.” The near side feature known as Oceanus Procellarum is a great example. It is lower in elevation and has a lava flow covered thinner crust with high concentrations of titanium rich elements. This is very different on the far

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Wireless Power Transmission Could Enable Exploration of the Far Side of the Moon

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How can future lunar exploration communicate from the far side of the Moon despite never being inline with the Earth? This is what a recent study submitted to Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics hopes to address as a pair of researchers from the IEEE Polytechnique Montréal investigated the potential for a wireless power transmission method (WPT) comprised of anywhere from one to three satellites located at Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 (EMLP-2) and a solar-powered receiver on the far side of the Moon. This study holds the potential to help scientists and future lunar astronauts maintain constant communication between the Earth and Moon since the lunar far side of the Moon is always facing away from Earth from the Moon’s rotation being almost entirely synced with its orbit around the Earth.

Here, Universe Today discusses this research with Dr. Gunes Karabulut Kurt, who is an associate professor at IEEE Polytechnique Montréal and the study’s co-author, regarding the motivation behind the study, significant results, follow-up research, and implications for WPT. So, what was the motivation behind this study?

“This research is motivated by the objective of overcoming the logistical and technical challenges associated with using traditional cables on the Moon’s surface,” Dr. Kurt tells Universe Today. “Laying cables on the Moon’s rough, dusty surface would lead to ongoing maintenance and wear problems, as lunar dust is highly abrasive. On the other hand, transporting large quantities of cables to the Moon requires a significant amount of fuel, which adds considerably to the mission’s costs.”

For the study, the researchers used a myriad of calculations and computer models to ascertain if one, two, or three satellites are sufficient within an EMLP-2 halo orbit to maintain both constant coverage of the lunar far side (LFS) and line of sight with the Earth. For context, EMLP-2 is located on the far side of the Moon with the halo orbit being perpendicular—or sideways—to the Moon’s orbit. The calculations involved in the study included the distances between each satellite, the antenna angles between the satellites and surface receiver, the amount of LFS surface coverage, and the amount of transmitted power between the satellites and LFS surface antennae. So, what were the most significant results from this study?

Dr. Kurt tells Universe Today their models concluded that three satellites in an EMLP-2 halo orbit and operating at equal distances from each other could “achieve continuous power beaming to a receiver optical antenna anywhere on the lunar far side” while maintaining 100 percent LFS coverage and line of sight with the Earth. “Aside triple satellite scheme that provides continuous LFS full coverage, even a two-satellite configuration provides full coverage during 88.60% of a full cycle around the EMLP-2 halo orbit,” Dr. Kurt adds.

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Schematic from Figure 1 of the study displaying the wireless power transmission and receiver on the lunar far side with three satellites (SPS-1, SPS-2, and SPS-3) in a halo orbit at the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2. (Credit: Donmez & Kurt (2024))

Regarding follow-up research, Dr. Kurt tells Universe Today, “Our future studies will focus on more complex harvesting and transmission models to get closer to reality. On the other hand, an approach that takes into account the irregular nature of lunar dust and the variation in its density due to environmental factors such as subsolar angle and others. In the future, if research in this field continues, explore this experimentally with lunar dust simulants and lasers.”

This study comes as NASA is preparing to send astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972 with the Artemis program, whose goal will be to land the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface. With the success of the Artemis 1 mission in November 2022 that consisted of an uncrewed Orion capsule orbiting the Moon, NASA is currently targeting September 2025 for their Artemis 2 mission, which is scheduled to be a 10-day, 4-person crewed mission using the Orion capsule for a lunar flyby, whose goal will be to conduct a full systems checkout of the Orion capsule. Therefore, what implications can this study have for the upcoming Artemis missions, or any future human exploration of the Moon?

“The findings have implications for the design of energy transmission systems on the Moon,” Dr.
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The Best Base Layers, Shorts and Socks for Hiking and Running

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By Michael Lanza

Let’s admit it: We don’t always take our base layers as seriously and we do our outerwear and insulation—or packs, tents, boots and other gear, for that matter. But this under-appreciated first stage in a layering system for the outdoors really sets the table for how comfortable you’ll be. Base layers that don’t perform well probably won’t kill you, but misery isn’t a good companion. This is what we wear against our skin. It matters.

After much testing from the trails to the mountains to the gym year-round, the long-sleeve tops, T-shirts, shorts, underwear, and socks reviewed here are the best I’ve found for dayhiking, backpacking, trail running, climbing, and training. And over the course of a quarter-century of testing and reviewing gear, including the 10 years I spent as the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog, I’ve learned how to distinguish the mediocre from the excellent.

Light- and medium-weight T-shirts and long-sleeve tops are the most versatile because you can layer them in a wider range of temperatures to keep you drier and cooler, but fabrics and design features of tops and shorts also affect their temperature range and the activities for which they’re comfortable.

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Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-books to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker above Oldman Lake along the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Jeff Wilhelm high above Oldman Lake along the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park. Click photo to see all e-books describing classic backpacking trips in Glacier and other national parks.
” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/06224531/Gla7-125-Jeff-Wilhelm-above-Oldman-Lake-along-the-Dawson-Pass-Trail-in-Glacier-National-Park.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/06224531/Gla7-125-Jeff-Wilhelm-above-Oldman-Lake-along-the-Dawson-Pass-Trail-in-Glacier-National-Park.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/06224531/Gla7-125-Jeff-Wilhelm-above-Oldman-Lake-along-the-Dawson-Pass-Trail-in-Glacier-National-Park-1024×683.jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A backpacker above Oldman Lake along the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.” class=”wp-image-61245″ srcset=”https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/06224531/Gla7-125-Jeff-Wilhelm-above-Oldman-Lake-along-the-Dawson-Pass-Trail-in-Glacier-National-Park.jpg 1024w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/06224531/Gla7-125-Jeff-Wilhelm-above-Oldman-Lake-along-the-Dawson-Pass-Trail-in-Glacier-National-Park.jpg 300w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/06224531/Gla7-125-Jeff-Wilhelm-above-Oldman-Lake-along-the-Dawson-Pass-Trail-in-Glacier-National-Park.jpg 768w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/06224531/Gla7-125-Jeff-Wilhelm-above-Oldman-Lake-along-the-Dawson-Pass-Trail-in-Glacier-National-Park.jpg 150w, https://tbo-media.sfo2.digitaloceanspaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/06224531/Gla7-125-Jeff-Wilhelm-above-Oldman-Lake-along-the-Dawson-Pass-Trail-in-Glacier-National-Park.jpg 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Jeff Wilhelm high above Oldman Lake along the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park. Click photo to see all e-books describing classic backpacking trips in Glacier
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