NASA unveiled some of its plans for its return to the moon. The space agency hopes to send a new manned mission to the moon by 2020 with the Space Shuttle's successor and is considering to build a moon base in the Shackleton crater, though other locations on the moon are being considered too.
One of NASA's plans are two pressurized rovers which would allow astronauts to travel on the moon without a space suit:
The agency's plans now also reportedly call for two pressurized rovers that would allow astronauts to travel in them without a space suit, Mike Gernhardt, NASA's lead for extravehicular physiology systems and performance projects, said. The rovers would apparently be about the same size as those used by astronauts on the Apollo, but would be capable of traveling up to 600 miles -- much farther than was possible previously.
NASA hopes to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 using the successor to the space shuttle, which is due to retire in 2010. It continues to consider the moon's Shackleton crater as the site for its lunar base, according to reports, though other locations are being considered too.
How to supply a moon base with power has been another frequently discussed point, with arguments in favor of both nuclear and solar energy systems. Solar is the current preference, at least for initial systems, the officials reportedly said.
Conditions on the moon are harsh at best, with temperature extremes on the surface ranging between minus 250 and plus 200 degrees Fahrenheit, Paul Czysz, professor emeritus of aerospace engineering at St. Louis University, told TechNewsWorld.
The space agency is also considering the construct underground facilities on the moon, as those would provide much better shielding against temperature extremes and solar radiation. More info at TechNewWorld.