Space Holy Water

The Search for Water and Rocks

Tags OSIRIS-REx, OSIRIS-Apex, Apophis, Psyche, NASA, JPL

NASA and JPL announced a few important asteroid mission details in mid-July. More on those in a bit. These details got shallowed up by the hype for 50-year Moon landing, the second manned Artemis mission, and even a “surprise” Russian Moon lander mission.

The Russian lunar lander mission tanked. The craft maybe made another small crater on the Moon. The mission loss reminds us that getting anywhere in deep space is less than 5% of the problem.

The Search for Water

Everyone is interested in the potential of easier to get to water ice on the Moon’s south pole.

At this point NASA admits that any manned mission to Mars (or anywhere else) depends on the availability of this energy and life sustaining resource.

The NASA administrator even held a press conference to explain why the Russian, Chinese, and Indian lunar missions would not be allowed to secure preeminent domain over any valuable Lunar resources.
In the short term, most believe finders keepers will apply.

The speak reminds me historically of the pope defining the ownership of colonies in North and South America. This absurd and arbitrary delineation had many lasting real-world effects. The Brazilians speak Portuguese. Most of the rest of South America speaks Spanish. In North Amercia, we speak English, all of the above, and more. Eheh.

I live in Mex-America. What do I know?

For the Love of Rocks

The Weight of Space final publication details were ironed out in mid-July. I was busy with those publisher tasks for obvious reasons. I didn’t get a chance to post about upcoming NASA and JPL asteroid missions that are near and dear to my heart. They were inspirational.

Space Rocks are initially pretty boring except for what’s in the rocks and maybe where they are headed.

Yeah. I happen to believe that there’s a lot more water ice in what some call the solar system’s Goldilocks Zone than is generally believed.

The return of the ORIS Rex mission samples from the asteroid Bennu arrives on Sept 24, 2023.


OSIRIS-REx Return Trajectory
The Return of the Rubble

See the WoSaM reprint post Of Rocks and Spin At Bennu that I originally wrote while the adventure at the carbon-rich Bennu rock occurred.
The post explains a bit about why I believe the missions to Bennu and Ryugu change everything. In brief…

“Recent discoveries in microgravity effects have revolutionized how we think about the solar system and other important things like the formation of protostars. I wasn’t really all that surprised by the apparent pile of rocks that is Bennu - at least on the surface. Just sayin’. There were orbiting big Jupiters and other junk long before our solar system act one.

The current available science and technology only allow us to analyze the general surface material content of asteroids, comets, etc. via the magic science of light. Most of the relatively bigger small stuff in a planetary system has been collecting smaller bits and pieces for a very long time.”

Apophis – the Evil One

The renamed OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer spacecraft, or OSIRIS-APEX, is now headed off to visit Apophis a larger Near Earth Object (NEO) in 2029. This is the same year that the 1,100 ft Apophis rock makes very close approach to Earth.

Apophis is in the category of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs)  —  asteroids with orbits that bring them very close to Earth now and for centuries in the future.
Read everything you never wanted to know about Apophis.

Apophis Passes Earth in 2029


The Apophis Flyby through Near Earth Space in 2029

Here’s a NASA/ JPL-Caltech animation of the 2029 Apophis pass and the current Near Earth Orbit (NEO) satellite swarm on April 13, 2029.

Apophis will pass within 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers) of Earth - 10 times closer than the Moon.

The Golden Rock

I always thought it was both interesting and funny that the 19th – 20th century Chinese slang term for the US was the Golden Mountain. At the time it made a lot of sense. Maybe this was just the Hong Kong Chinese? Who knows?

If we talk about space mining people always bring up Psyche. Psyche was the 16th small object discovered in the 19th century. Psyche is a large metal rock (173 miles) in the asteroid belt that orbits the Sun between 2.5 and 3.5 AU.
See the NASA Psyche Details page.

In July NASA confirmed the delayed Psyche mission launch window beginning in the first week of Oct 5, 2023 and extending each day until Oct 25, 2023 with an arrival at Psyche in August 2029.


NASA Psyche Mission Promo
The Golden Rock

This will be the first NASA launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster from the famous Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The trip to Psyche includes a gravity assist via a close flyby of Mars.

The Psyche mission includes a notable number of other firsts mentioned in the video.

Notable to me and thee - the time and distance scale of the Psyche mission trip from 1 AU (Earth orbit) to the middle of the belt at 3AU is a staggering 6 years.

People Can Visit Space
Mankind Cannot

We create a way to live in the Black or we don’t.

Read the Weight of Space