Sunday, May 28, 2017
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Send a Robot to the Moon, Leave a Legacy

The Lunar Mission One Lander, illustrated above, will drill up to 100 meters into the moon to study its composition. Photo courtesy of Lunar Mission One.
The Lunar Mission One Lander, illustrated above, will drill up to 100 meters into the moon to study its composition. Photo courtesy of Lunar Mission One.

A private initiative called Lunar Mission One is crowdsourcing money to send a robot to the moon, drill beneath the surface, analyze samples, and leave behind a record of human history. Higher-level donors will also be able to leave personal memories in the moon, and vote on decisions about the project.

“Lunar Mission One will make a huge contribution to our understanding of the origins of our planet and the Moon and will inspire a generation to learn more about space, science and engineering – in the same way that my generation was inspired by the Apollo Moon landings,” said David Iron, founder of Lunar Missions Ltd and the Lunar Missions Trust.

Designs for the shuttlecraft and lander still need to be drawn up. But the Lunar Mission One team has an outline of what they’ll need. According to the mission website, the Lander will be sent to the moon using a spacecraft much like SpaceX Falcon 9. Once the spacecraft soft-lands near the South Pole area of the moon, the it will use a robot arm to carry out a range of tasks, including helping the Lander monitor seismic activity. Like Philae, the robot that recently landed on a comet, the Mission One Lander will be powered by solar cells on its exterior. It will then bore a hole at least 20 meters into the moon using a low-mass drilling system. Later, the same gear will later deposit the time capsule of human history and memories into the hole.

“Lunar Mission One is both ambitious and innovative, demonstrating an exciting way of enabling lunar exploration,” said Rutherford Appleton Laboratory‘s Space Director Richard Holdaway. Our experience in multiple and complex space missions will play a vital role in helping coordinate the project. As well as direct exploration benefits, the mission will have longer term advantages including technological advances and knowledge.”

The entire operation does sound a bit like the plot of a recent Doctor Who episode, however. Here’s hoping we don’t find out the moon is just a giant egg full of spiders.

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