The big news this week, and maybe even all year, is that NASA has officially landed on Mars again. The The Curiosity Mars Rover touched down on the red planet earlier this week and has been sending back gorgeous pictures from the surface of Mars ever since.
While Mars may be in the news now, there is another project that NASA has been working on – sending a lander to the Moon and beyond. The idea is that we may be able to send a humanoid robot to live on the Moon for an extended period of time. To accomplish that mission, NASA has been developing the Morpheus project.
Here’s what NASA has to say about the Morpheus project:
Morpheus is a vertical test bed demonstrating new green propellant propulsion systems and autonomous landing and hazard detection technology. Designed, developed, manufactured and operated in-house by engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the Morpheus Project represents not only a vehicle to advance technologies, but also an opportunity to try out “lean development” engineering practices.
All in all, it’s pretty awesome. If successful, they may be able to launch a renewable space rocket that’s capable of refueling itself on the wasted methane from ISS or even the methane on the Moon. It’s an ambitious plan and as such requires extensive testing here on Earth before it’s able to go to space.
The latest test for the Morpheus moon lander didn’t go exactly as planned though. After lifting off the ground for a few seconds, it nosedived straight back into the ground. Even better, it catches fire and then explodes. I would say something about it being sad to see such technology go to waste, but it’s rare to see such an awesome explosion. I’m sure the guys at NASA were just as impressed until they realized that a couple million dollars just went down the tube.
[Image Credit: Morpheus Lander/Flickr]