from the moon-rocks dept.
India plans to visit the moon a third time and also return, with Japan for company this time.
Their lander and rover mission will bring samples back from moon, the chiefs of the two space agencies said on Friday.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have started to work out the contours of their joint trip — which will be the third for both countries.
They did not say when it would be sent. The plans are in the early stages: Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, A.S.Kiran Kumar, and JAXA president Naoki Okumura said the 'implementation arrangements' are likely be reached in a couple of months.
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Japan plans to put a man on the moon around 2030, according to a new proposal by the government's Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It is the first time JAXA has revealed an intention to send Japanese astronauts beyond the International Space Station, and it will mostly likely be part of an international mission, the agency said.
[...] A spokesman for JAXA told CNN the new plan wasn't to send an exclusively Japanese rocket to the Moon, which would be extremely costly, but rather to contribute to a multinational manned lunar probe. By contributing technology, JAXA would hope to be allotted a space on the mission, which would begin preparation in 2025.
Also at Space News.
"Japan's space agency said it had discovered an enormous cave beneath the lunar surface that could be turned into an exploration base for astronauts."
"The chasm, 50km (31 miles) long and 100 metres wide, appears to be structurally sound and its rocks may contain ice or water deposits that could be turned into fuel, according to data sent back by the orbiter, nicknamed Kaguya after the moon princess in a Japanese fairytale."
According to a science news article by UPI (United Press International):
In a new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, scientists confirmed the presence of a large lava tube among the Marius Hills, a series of lunar lava domes.
The open lava tube could serve like a giant bunker, providing shelter from the harsh conditions on the moon's surface. In their study, scientists argue lava tubes offer ideal protection from extreme temperature swings, radiation and meteorite impacts.
Lava tubes form when the outer edges of a lava flow harden into crust and the remaining lava drains away, leaving an empty cylinder.
"It's important to know where and how big lunar lava tubes are if we're ever going to construct a lunar base," Junichi Haruyama, a senior researcher at JAXA, Japan's space agency, said in a news release. "But knowing these things is also important for basic science. We might get new types of rock samples, heat flow data and lunar quake observation data."
India plans to put another orbiter around the Moon and land a rover for just $93 million (including launch costs):
In a large shed near the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore, a six-wheeled rover rumbles over dark grey rubble in a landscape designed to mimic the Moon's rocky surface. This test and others scheduled for the next few weeks are crucial steps in India's quest to launch a second mission to the Moon next March.
The country's much anticipated Chandrayaan-2 comes almost a decade after India began its first journey to the Moon, in 2008. "It is logically an extension of the Chandrayaan-1 mission," says Mylswamy Annadurai, director of the project at ISRO. The spacecraft comprises an orbiter that will travel around the Moon, a lander that will touch down in a as-yet undecided location near the Moon's south pole and a rover.
India's maiden Moon trip was a significant achievement for its space programme, but ended prematurely when ISRO lost contact with the orbiter ten months into the planned two-year mission. However, an instrument on a probe that reached the Moon's surface did gather enough data for scientists to confirm the presence of traces of water.
[...] ISRO plans to execute its mission on shoestring budget of just 6.03 billion rupees (US$93 million), including the cost of the rocket and launch. Chandrayaan-2 will be carried into space on one of the agency's three-stage rockets, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II, taking off from a spaceport on the island of Sriharikota in the Bay of Bengal. "A nice part of the Indian space programme is that they manage to do things so cheaply," says ANU astrobiologist Charles Lineweaver. "If it succeeds, maybe everyone else will see that their mission didn't really need that extra bell or whistle."
The launch is scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.
Previously: Moon Wetter Than Previously Thought
Deep Space Gateway (DSG) is a planned space station in lunar orbit. The U.S. and Russia signed an agreement last year to work on the station's development. Now Russia has created an engineering department inside the RKK Energia space corporation in order to plan the nation's lunar exploration, including a possible manned landing:
Officially, Moscow has been on a path to put a human on the Moon since 2013, when President Putin approved a general direction for human space flight in the coming decade. The program had been stalling for several years due to falling prices for oil, the main source of revenue for the Russian budget. Last year, however, the Russian lunar exploration effort was given a new impetus when the Kremlin made a strategic decision to cooperate with NASA on the construction of a habitable outpost in the orbit around the Moon, known as Deep Space Gateway, DSG.
Although the US saw the primary goal of the DSG as a springboard for missions to Mars, NASA's international partners, including Russia, have been pushing the idea of exploring the Moon first. On the Russian side, RKK Energia led key engineering studies into the design of the DSG and participated in negotiations with NASA on sharing responsibilities for the project.
To coordinate various technical aspects of lunar exploration, the head of RKK Energia Vladimir Solntsev signed an order late last year to form Center No. 23Ts, which would report directly to him. According to a document seen by Ars Technica, the group will be responsible for developing long-term plans for human missions to the vicinity of the Moon and to its surface, as well as for implementing proposals for international cooperation in lunar missions. This is a clear signal that NASA might soon have a new liaison in Russia for all things related to the DSG. The same group will also take care of all the relevant domestic interactions between RKK Energia and its subcontractors.
Unlike the ISS, the DSG should not require any orbital boost burns and could reach any altitude above the Moon using ion thrusters.
Here are two op-eds from last year about the Deep Space Gateway:
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