ROBOT ROVERS: It is expensive to send people into space. Designing and delivering a robot doesn't require heavy and complicated life support systems. Robots also don't have to worry about a return trip back to Earth. Scientists are building robots designed to mimic the movements of snakes. Snakes don't have rigid skeletons, so they can contort their bodies to get into tiny holes and slither over uneven terrain. So-called "snakebots" would be able to dig into loose soil to explore where other robots couldn't reach, and slither into cracks in the surface.
ABOUT THE MOON: The moon is Earth's only natural satellite, a cold, dry orb whose surface is studded with craters and strewn with rocks and dust. The moon's gravitational force is only 17% of the Earth's gravity. For example, a 100 pound (45 kg) person would weigh only 17 pounds (7.6 kg) on the Moon. The temperature on the Moon ranges from daytime highs of about 265F (130C) to nighttime lows of about -170F (-110C). The moon has no atmosphere. On the moon, the sky is always appears dark, even on the bright side because there is no atmosphere to scatter light. Also, since sound waves travel through air, the moon is silent; there can be no sound transmission on the moon. The phases of the moon are caused by the relative positions of the earth, sun, and moon. The moon goes around the earth, on average, in 27 days, 7 hours, and 43 minutes. The sun always illuminates the half of the moon facing the sun (except during lunar eclipses, when the moon passes through the earth's shadow). When the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the earth, the moon appears "full" to us, a bright, round disk. When the moon is between the earth and the sun, it appears dark, a "new" moon. In between, the moon's illuminated surface appears to grow (wax) to full, then decreases (wanes) to the next new moon.
The American Geophysical Union, the American Astronomical Society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.