London-based, Lunar Mission, Ltd., launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise £600,000 for its new project, Lunar Mission One. The project is considered the “lunar mission for everyone” and has so far raised £252,753 from nearly 3,000 backers.
Lunar Mission One is described as the most inspirational lunar project since the Apollo landings. The British Scientists plan to send an unmanned robotic landing module to the South Pole of the Moon and use pioneering technology to drill down to a depth of at least 20m – which is 10 times deeper than has ever been drilled before .
The team shared, “By doing this, we will access lunar rock dating back up to 4.5 billion years to discover the geological composition of the Moon, the ancient relationship it shares with our planet and the effects of asteroid bombardment. Ultimately, the project will improve scientific understanding of the early solar system, the formation of our planet and the Moon, and the conditions that initiated life on Earth.”
Director of RAL Space, Richard Holdaway, noted, “Lunar Mission is both ambitious and innovative, demonstrating an exciting way of enabling lunar exploration. 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 technology advances and knowledge.”
As part of a campaign perk, backer who donate £60 will have a reserved digital memory box that will be buried in the moon during the mission as part of a 21st century time capsule. This capsule will be inside the borehold that the team will drill on the moon to be preserved for about a billions years by the moon’s conditions. The capsule will consist of two main parts:
- Private Archive: Consists of millions and millions of individual digital memory boxes. The backer will be able to upload anything they want into their virtual memory box just as they would in a “real-world” capsule.
- Public Archive: Will contain a publicly assembled, authoritative record of life on Earth, which includes a history of humankind and a species database that chronicles the planet’s known biodiversity and how it all fits together.
Sharing more details about the project, the team explained, “Within about ten years, we will launch a rocket into Earth orbit carrying the Lunar Missions spacecraft. The names of some members of the Lunar Missions Club will be inscribed on the sides of the space craft. An upper stage will boost the spacecraft – which will also act as the lunar lander and drilling platform – towards the Moon.The craft will slow down into orbit around the lunar poles, and adjust its orbit for a precision landing.
“From the viewing gallery at mission control, members of the Lunar Missions Club will be able to watch as the spacecraft slows itself down again to head towards its preselected landing site near the South Pole, checks its position with reference to the target area and adjusts its trajectory as required. In the last minute before landing, as it slows itself for the last time, it will look for any small hazards and make final adjustments. The engines will cut out just before the moment of landing and the legs of the craft will absorb the residual momentum, stabilizing and settling the craft on the surface of the Moon.
And then the drilling will begin. With a 2 meter drill connected to the spacecraft by a cable, we will drill a 5cm diameter borehole. As the drilling progresses, the equipment will retrieve cylindrical rock cores for analysis by a suite of scientific instruments onboard the spacecraft.”
The drilling will continue for three to four months until the team reaches at least their target depth of 20m, but possible as deep as 100m. Once the final samples are retrieved the time capsules containing the public and private archives will be plugged into the borehole. The team revealed that, depending on the mission’s success, they would arrange a return mission to bring the most important samples back for more detailed analysis on Earth. But this would be the next mission funded by the Lunar Missions Trust.
Lunar Mission One’s crowdfunding campaign is set to close on December 17th.
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