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Public and private space enterprises are aiming to extract water from the Moon, which they hope to turn into rocket fuel to fly missions farther into our solar system. However, it's not yet clear how much water is available on or below the lunar surface.
Why it matters: If NASA and others can extract water from the Moon, it would change exploration as we know it.
But, but, but: While scientists are pretty sure there's some water on the Moon, it's still not clear how much or whether it could be accessed easily and used as fuel.
What's happening: NASA plans to send astronauts to the south pole of the Moon in 2024 as part of its Artemis mission.
NASA plans to find out how much ice is on the Moon in the coming years, with new missions like the Lunar Flashlight spacecraft expected to launch in 2020.
Flashback: The LCROSS experiment slammed into the Moon in 2009 as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter watched, catching a glimpse of water spewing from the impact site in a permanently shadowed crater.
Where it stands: In addition to NASA, some private spaceflight companies, like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, are focusing efforts on lunar water.
The Moon is one of the most deeply studied objects in our solar system, and yet there is a lot we don't know about our nearest neighbor.
Why it matters: Most of our lunar knowledge comes from the samples brought home during the Apollo era and robotic spacecraft sent to the Moon.
Where it stands: Scientists think that around 4 billion years ago a major event in the history of the solar system — the Late Heavy Bombardment — took place. Tons of debris from the outer solar system smacked into the inner planets.
The big picture: Understanding the Moon is important for more than just our understanding of Earth.
Go deeper: Read the full story on the stream
A test of the Orion abort system. Photo: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O’Connell
The Orion spacecraft — designed to bring astronauts to deep space destinations — is slowly but surely preparing for its first mission to the Moon.
Why it matters: Orion is a major part of NASA's Artemis plans, which are expected to bring astronauts to the Moon by 2024.
Driving the news: The spacecraft passed a key test last week: NASA staged a test of the capsule's abort system, which is designed to pull a crew away from a failing rocket in the moments after launch.
Details: The next big test for Orion will be what's known as the Artemis-1 mission, when the capsule — sans astronauts — and huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket fly together for the first time.
Yes, but: While Artemis-1 is expected to fly as soon as next year, the timeline is in doubt due to serious delays with both Orion and SLS, leaving little room for further setbacks if NASA intends to meet its 2024 deadline.
A photo from the DSCOVR spacecraft showing the Moon and Earth. Photo: NASA/NOAA
DSCOVR spacecraft in safe mode (Jeff Foust, Space News)
NASA won’t launch a mission to hunt deadly asteroids (Tim Fernholz, Quartz)
Neutron star collisions are essential to our origin story (Katie Mack, Cosmos)
A startling spike on Mars (Marina Koren, The Atlantic)
Virgin Galactic is going public (Dion Rabouin, Axios)
A total solar eclipse in Argentina. Credit: Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Last Tuesday, a total solar eclipse darkened skies above South America, delivering some pretty astounding views to anyone lucky enough to see it.
Researchers used those brief minutes of totality in South America to take a look at the Sun's atmosphere and monitor changes — like the temperature dropping — on Earth.
Thanks for spending time with me this week. See you next week, as we move ever closer to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. 🌖