(ORDO NEWS) — These caves are not only a geologically untouched part of the Moon, but they could also provide a safe home for future explorers.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is going to explore the caves hiding under the surface of the Earth‘s natural satellite. Scientists believe that these caves are interconnected in the form of huge underground tunnels.
Astrobiologists suggest that these caves may provide a safe haven for future explorers. The ESA has combined two different plans, RoboCrane and Daedalus, to form a joint mission to bring the explorers down into the cave.
“A look inside a lunar cave would provide unexpected scientific information,” said planetary lava tube expert Francesco Sauro. On the way down, the mission will document the results of the exploration of the cave and map it.
Preparations for a mission that will explore lunar caves began back in 2019 when ESA Basic Activities launched the Open Space Innovative Platform (OSIP) to generate ideas for discovering, mapping and exploring lunar caves. Five ideas were selected, each relating to a different phase of the mission.
The ESA selected SysNova RoboCrane and Daedalus for the mission.
“The OSIP campaign and the SysNova challenge have generated interest in lunar cave missions from European and Canadian industrial and research institutions,” said project leader Loredana Bessone.
ESA could launch a mission as early as 2033 and is preparing to use a large lander (EL3) to reach the lunar surface, which will target the Marius Hills pit. The study will last two weeks, equivalent to one day on the moon.
The teams created a preliminary design for the mission, including studying the environment of the cave and creating models of the Moon’s interior.
They also created roadmaps for developing the technologies that will be needed to successfully achieve the mission’s goals.
“In the coming years, the mission should be worked out even more in detail. A rover that will take RoboCrane and Daedalus to the pit needs to be developed and a lunar test site will be needed to try out the methods planned for the mission,” Loredana said.
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