Fly us to the Moon... south pole to be precise

Mar 31, 2010
CAD-drawing of the Lunar Lander concept from OHB-System AG. Credits: ESA / OHB Technology

(PhysOrg.com) -- The south polar region of the Moon, with dark craters and high ridges, is a world away from the relatively smooth terrain visited by Apollo astronauts four decades ago. This rugged moonscape is the target for Europe's next leap into space.

The possible deposits of water ice, heavily cratered terrain and long periods of sunlight make the lunar south pole and areas around it extremely interesting for explorers and scientists. It is therefore a prime target for future human missions to the Moon.

Europe is now looking at a lander mission to pave the way for astronauts. This precursor would be the first European Moonlander and the first to visit the south polar region.

ESA is now asking industry to submit proposals for this mission.

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

Preparing for human exploration

ESA’s Lunar Lander would pave the way for future human exploration on the . There are two core goals.

The first requires that it uses the latest navigation technology to fly a precise course from to the surface and touch down safely and accurately. On the way down, it must image the surface and recognise dangerous features by itself, using its own ‘intelligence’.

Then the Lander shall investigate this unique region with a suite of instruments. It will investigate the properties and possible health effects of radiation and lunar dust on future astronauts, and it will examine the soil for signs of resources that could be used by human explorers.

Several European industrial teams have already assessed the various mission options and designs. The next step is ‘Phase-B1’, which will mature the mission and spacecraft design and examine in detail the demands of landing and working at specific southern sites.

CAD deawing of the Lunar Lander concept from Astrium GmbH. Credits: ESA / EADS Astrium

This 18-month phase will begin this summer, taking the Lunar Lander from a design concept to hardware reality. The goal is for launch by the end of this decade.

Involving European researchers and industry is crucial for defining the detailed mission objectives and identifying instruments to address them. For instance, a request for information in 2009 produced more than 200 responses.

As part of the process of involving European researchers and industry in the project, an information day will be held at ESA’s space research and technology centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands on 14 April.

The day is aimed at those who responded to the 2009 request and will include an update on the mission outline, mission objectives and the model payload to be used for Phase-B1.

Explore further: Bright points in Sun's atmosphere mark patterns deep in its interior

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA Selects Team To Build Lunar Lander

Oct 03, 2005

NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Doug Cooke announced Friday the selection of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., and Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, ...

NASA Moon-Impactor Mission Passes Major Review

Feb 02, 2007

NASA's drive to return astronauts to the moon and later probe deeper into space achieved a key milestone recently when agency officials approved critical elements of a moon impact mission scheduled to launch in October 2008. ...

Send Your Name to the Moon Aboard LRO

May 01, 2008

NASA invites people of all ages to join the lunar exploration journey with an opportunity to send their names to the moon aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, spacecraft.

Recommended for you

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

1 hour ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

4 hours ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

7 hours ago

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

yyz
not rated yet Mar 31, 2010
I see no mention of possible launch vehicles being considered. Would this utilize Ariane 5 or a new launch system?

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.