Ever wondered how a return to the moon would be like? Well, Europeans and Russians will see to it that it happens soon enough.
Illustration of a Moon base by the European Space Agency.
A joint European and Russian endeavour has been planned to explore the possibility of setting foot on the moon again. The researchers also look forward to colonising our satellite.
“This whole series of missions feels like the beginning of the return to the Moon,” said Richard Fisackerly, the lead engineer from Europe, “but it is also starting something new in terms of overall exploration of the Solar System.”
The new series of missions named Luna 27 have been put together by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, the Russian Feedral Space Agency.
“We have to go to the Moon. The 21st century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilisation, and our country has to participate in this process,” Igor Mitrofanov, one of the lead scientists from the Space Research Institute in Moscow, said in a statement to BBC News.
Luna 27 is scheduled for launch in 5 years’ time. An unmanned lander will be sent to an unexplored region at the south pole of the Moon. The aim will be to search for water and raw materials to make fuel and oxygen. At this point, only robots will have landed on the moon.
“The south pole of the Moon is unlike anywhere we have been before,” said lead ESA scientist, James Carpenter. “The environment is completely different, and due to the extreme cold there you could find large amounts of water-ice and other chemistry which is on the surface, and which we could access and use as rocket fuel or in life-support systems to support future human missions we think will go to these locations.”
If the required resources are spotted, more missions will be prepared, possibly ultimately leading to humans setting up a permanent settlement there.
“It will be for astronomical observation, for the utilisation of minerals and other lunar resources, and to create an outpost that can be visited by cosmonauts working together as a test bed for their future flight to Mars,” said Mitrofanov.