China is planning to send a spacecraft to the moon to determine the presence of water in the lunar craters.
What Happened: SpaceNews.com reported researchers with the Key Laboratory of Information Science of Electromagnetic Waves at Fudan University published a paper in the Journal of Deep Space Exploration that proposed sending the Chang’e-7 lunar mission to the permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) in the moon’s south pole.
The mission would consist of an orbiter, relay satellite, lander, rover and “mini flying detector,” with the primary goal of searching for water ice and sampling it to determine if it can be converted for human consumption or use as a rocket propellant. The mission will also determine other resources and volatiles that might be present in that unexplored region.
What Happens Next: The Chang’e-7 mission is being aimed for 2024 or 2025. Clive Neal, a lunar scientist at the University of Notre Dame, told SpaceNews, “PSRs are critically important because right now they contain the largest potential reservoirs of water and volatiles on the moon but we don’t know much about the reserve potential.”
NASA plans to launch its Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission in late 2023, near the western edge of Nobile Crater. The agency is also developing the Artemis Program for a “sustained human presence” on the moon. China is also eyeing a human presence on the moon through its collaboration with Russia on an International Lunar Research Station that could accommodate an extended human presence on the moon. The project is being scheduled to launch in the 2030s.
Photo: "A Trip to the Moon" by Georges Melies, courtesy of Cinema Crazed
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