Sunday, June 28, 2015

Japan Wants to Land a Probe on the South Pole of Moon

An artist’s rendition of a probe at the south pole of the moon. Credit: JAXA

The science ministry plans to land an unmanned probe at the south pole of the moon in the early 2020s in an attempt to enhance Japan’s standing in the space exploration business. Examination of rocks at the pole could provide clues to the origin of the moon, and there is also the chance of water or ice being found that could be used for astronauts in future missions. “The plan is a top priority, and we should also weigh cooperating with the United States in proceeding with the project,” the ministry said in a report compiled June 25 by a panel of experts.

Motoyuki Fujii, a senior vice minister at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, emphasized the significance of the plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to Earth’s satellite as many nations plan to make full use of resources that may be mined from the moon and Mars.

“We will make stable efforts to realize the project,” Fujii said.

Only three countries have ever soft-landed a spacecraft on the moon — the United States, the Soviet Union and China. 

Credit: ajw.asahi.com

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