Orion Spacecraft Heat Shield

The Orion crew module (CM) is a reusable transportation capsule that provides a habitat for the crew, provides storage for consumables and research instruments, and contains the docking port for crew transfers. The crew module is the only part of the Orion that returns to Earth after each mission and is a 57. 5° truncated cone shape with a blunt spherical aft end, 5. 02 meters (16 ft 6 in) in diameter and 3. 3 meters (10 ft 10 in) in length, with a mass of about 8. 5 metric tons (19,000 lb). It was manufactured by the Lockheed Martin Corporation. It will have 50% more volume than the Apollo capsule and will carry four to six astronauts. After extensive study, NASA has selected the Avcoat ablator system for the Orion crew module. Avcoat, which is composed of silica fibers with a resin in a honeycomb made of fiberglass and phenolic resin, was formerly used on the Apollo missions and on the Space Shuttle orbiter for early flights.



Earth's Moon Reveals An Ancient Secret. Many astronomers think that during an ancient era, termed the Late Heavy Bombardment, our young Moon was violently battered by a marauding multitude of invading asteroids that crashed onto its newly formed surface. This attack of pelting objects from space occurred about 4 billion years ago, and the shower of crashing asteroids excavated impact craters, and also slashed open deep fissures, in the lunar crust. This sustained shower of merciless impacts increased lunar porosity, and opened up an intertwining network of large seams under the Moon's surface. Launched as GRAIL A and GRAIL B in September 2011, the probes were renamed Ebb and Flow by schoolchildren in Montana. The probes operated in almost circular orbit near the lunar poles at an altitude of approximately 34 miles, until their mission came to an end in December 2012. The distance between the twin probes altered a bit as they soared over areas of lesser and greater gravity that were caused by visible topological features on the Moon's surface, such as impact craters and mountains--as well as by masses that were secreted beneath the lunar surface. Dr. Soderblom and his team, including Dr. Maria Zuber, who is the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and MIT's vice president of research, have published their findings in the September 10, 2015 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.