Europe's plans to visit the Moon in 2018

Jul 27, 2012 by Jason Major, Universe Today
Credit: ESA

The European Space Agency is aiming for the Moon with their Lunar Lander mission, anticipated to arrive on the lunar surface in 2018. Although ESA successfully put a lander on the surface of Titan with the Huygens probe in 2005, this will be the first European spacecraft to visit Earth’s Moon.

Although will be an unmanned robotic explorer, the mission will be a forerunner to future human exploration of the Moon as well as Mars. Lunar Lander will use advanced technologies for autonomous landing and will be able to determine the best location for touchdown on its own, utilizing lasers to avoid obstacles on the Moon’s surface.

With no GPS on the Moon, Lunar Lander will navigate by digitally imaging the surface on the fly. Landing will be accomplished via thrusters, which were successfully tested earlier this year at a test chamber in Germany.

Lunar Lander’s destination will be the Moon’s south pole, where no exploration missions have ever landed. Once on the , the Lander will investigate Moon dust using a robotic arm and a suite of onboard diagnostic instruments, sending data and images back to scientists on Earth for further study.

Watch a video of the Lunar Lander mission below, from launch to landing.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

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More information: Read more about Lunar Lander on the ESA site here.

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User comments : 8

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4.7 / 5 (3) Jul 27, 2012
I wonder if it is named after Christain Huygens? -- he revolutionized pendulum clocks.

Now this is great space innovation. -- the only thing better would be putting six GPS satellites in orbit around the moon -- plus sixe geosync satellite for communication and precision mapping.
not rated yet Jul 27, 2012
I would agree about GPS in lunar orbit, prevent noise pollution on the far side (which would disrupt planned radio telescopes), it would be better to place them at L1 (and L2).
The South Pole is where the action is going to be...soon, very soon. Looks like "everyone" is heading there. Maybe the US will also get there eventually (2020 at best). I hope the Chinese and Europeans will grant us visas to stay for a while. ;-)
5 / 5 (2) Jul 28, 2012
Or instead of redoing the 1960's in higher resolution, we could just put a lab on the moon (under a few meters of lunar soil for radiation shielding) and post scientists there to do actual research.
I agree with the GPS idea guys, it would make the scientists job easier, but eternally mapping and remapping when a person on the ground can change gears faster to address interesting new phenomena, just isn't efficient.
1 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2012
Agreed. The lunar orbiters already there (or been there) have done an excellent job of imaging every area of the moon, in just about every wavelength. We know what is down there, now let's go get it.
The Singularity
3 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2012
We've been to our moon plenty of times. Cant see the point in this really. A mission to phobos would be far more interesting.
2 / 5 (3) Jul 29, 2012
nobody here gets it. the united states of europe is the new united states of america.
this is purely symbolic.
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
how the hell are they going to pay for it when the eurocountries go bankrupt one by one?
The Singularity
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2012
@GDM yeah we know whats down there, a load of nasty useless dust & rock. No point in going there at all. Crazy idea if you ask me.

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