The Russian space agency & ESA teaming up to go to the Moon

According to the BBC the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, will lead a robotic mission to the south pole of the Moon in 2025. The original launch date of 2020 has been pushed out for budgetary reasons.

The European Space Agency will participate in the mission.

Roscosmos and the ESA hope to find water, helium-3 and other chemicals which could be used to create fuel for missions within the solar system and support a permanent human settlement.

Dr. James Carpenter, ESA’s lead scientist for the project described the reasons the Moon’s south pole was chosen as the landing site:

“The south pole of the Moon is unlike anywhere we have been before. 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 . . . “

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NIAC: Exploring subsurface oceans – “Doing the hard thing”

Over fifty years ago John Kennedy articulated one of the most important reasons for exploring space:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills. . . “

NASA has a program which seeks out the things which are not easy, which are hard and which organize and measure the bet of our energies and skills: NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concept program (NIAC).

Earlier this month NIAC awarded a Phase I grants to several projects, giving each $100,000 and nine months to prove the feasibility of some aspect of the proposal.

One of the Phase I awardees was a project submitted by Dr. Masahiro Ono, a research technologist at JPL. Dr. Ono proposes exploring the oceans of Enceladus and Europa using a lander with three separate modules.
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Planet Nine: What’s in your Kuiper Belt?

To date, space exploration has been focused either relatively close to earth or extremely far away.

Missions to the Moon and the planets focus on our nearby visible neighbors particularly Mars. We’ve been to the Moon. We’ve sent probes to Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto.

Images from Hubble and other observatories focus on distant objects. We have observed galaxies billions of light years away.

Apart from the New Horizons probe that flew past Pluto last July however the area beyond Neptune has largely been ignored until relatively recently.

That focus may be changing.
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