Following the successful of comet lander after drifting into a state of hibernation, British space scientists are planning for the next big thing: Drilling into the surface of the moon.
The mission: Lunar Mission One aims to send a robotic probe that could drill 100m below the moon’s surface, 50 times deeper than the previous effort there.
The team hopes to launch the lander by 2024 which could reveal how Earth was formed and the origins of the Moon.
The robotic lander is estimated to cost about £500 million ($895m) and the team hopes that the public will agree to it. A funding campaign has bee launched on Kickstarter to raise £600,000.
Brian Cox, the scientist and broadcaster, who is backing the project, said:
“We don’t have answers everyone agrees on about very simple questions about the Moon. If we are going to explore space — and I think we have to — then the Moon is the obvious stepping stone. Everyone can play a part directly in the funding.”
Donors will be able to make their mark on the project by contributing time capsules either as messages recorded in digital memory box or physical material such as hair. These time capsules will be buried under then lunar surface which would be preserved for billion years.
Monica Grady, a project scientist on the Rosetta comet lander mission and an adviser to Lunar Mission One, said the plan was ambitious, but realistic. “No space mission is easy,” she said. “Compared with a comet, the Moon is much bigger, you have gravity and it doesn’t take 28 minutes to get the signal back.”