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Observatories on the moon and art that reaches orbit


Astronomy on the moon

Another commercial moon lander is launching this week from Kennedy Space Center.

The lander is bringing payloads from NASA and commercial companies to the moon. And on that mission is a technology test that will lay the groundwork to establish an observatory on the moon. The lunar environment gives astronomers advantages they don’t have on Earth, like less atmospheric radio interference.

International Lunar Observatory Association’s astrophysicist Ana Mosquera said these new plans for the lunar surface might bring new perspectives about our galaxy.

“If all goes as expected, we're expecting to get the images of the Milky Way galaxy,” Mosquera said. “That's important, we believe from the societal point of view, because it's going to be extremely inspiring.”

 Mosquera said seeing her work go to the moon is inspiring, and she has thought about the impact of her work and what it will do for the future of space exploration.

 “I think I have thought about it,” Mosquera said. “I wasn't sure that perhaps I would see it in my lifetime or something like that. But you know, we have like these big telescopes already in space that are like, giant, big monsters that allow us to learn a lot about the universe.”

Space isn’t just about science, it’s about art

We have had on several astronauts who incorporated their art while in space, including Chris Hadfield and Nicole Stott.

Now, astronauts John Shoffner and Peggy Whitson are serving as judges in the International Space Art and Poetry Contest. They both flew aboard the Axiom-2 mission, and before her time at the company, Whitson was a NASA astronaut. She spent a cumulative 675 days in space, more than any other American or woman.

The contest allows students and educators to submit their art for a chance for it to be flown into space. Shoffner said this contest allows students to think more creatively and look towards their future.

Ax-2 Pilot and STEM Advocate John Shoffner meets with colleagues at the Operator Solutions Facility in Melbourne, FL.
Axiom Space
Axiom Space
Ax-2 Pilot and STEM Advocate John Shoffner meets with colleagues at the Operator Solutions Facility in Melbourne, FL.

“Every young person has a voice in them that is telling them what to lean toward,” Shoffner said. “We think art is so fundamental to design, it leads engineering. Before someone can invent engineer, develop, they have to first imagine.”

Whitson believes that creativity can be applied to a vast array of space-related careers. She said the contest allows people to show their unique skills in relation to art and space.

“There are so many jobs out there that you might not even realize are associated with space,” Whitson said. “Whether you know whether or not you actually ended up there or you're just building parts and pieces and contributing to that process to that technology."

Marian is a multimedia journalist at Central Florida Public Media working as a reporter and producer for the 'Are We There Yet?' space podcast.
Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."
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