(ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers from the University of Central Florida will study an unknown and mysterious region of the moon.
Two UCF planetary scientists, Kerry Donaldson Hanne and Adrienne Dove, have been asked to lead a mission that will land the spacecraft over the Gruythuisen domes, an unexplored part of the Moon.
The domes located in the western part of the Moon are the result of a rare form of volcanic eruption, according to NASA.
The mystery of the domes lies in the fact that oceans of liquid water and plate tectonics are necessary for the formation of such geological structures on Earth. Without these components, NASA scientists are left wondering how these structures came to be.
The Payloads and Science on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) program will launch a spacecraft with a robot rover in 2026 to study the chemical composition of domes and the interaction of dust with the spacecraft and rover.
For one lunar day, equivalent to 10 Earth days, the Lunar Vulkan Imaging and Spectroscopy Explorer (Lunar-VISE) will explore the top of one of the domes, thought to be made of sticky magma rich in silica, similar to granite, which could become a likely resource for future colonization.
“We have a potential treasure trove of knowledge that will not only help us in future exploration of the moon by robots and humans, but will also help us better understand the history of our own planet, as well as other planets in the solar system,” said Donaldson Hanna, principal investigator.
The first mission aims to scan and create high-resolution maps of water on the Moon and could be launched by 2025 or earlier, the scientist said.
UCF will share the spot at the start of 2026 with another project that will investigate the effects of the moon’s low gravity and radiation environment on yeast, which is used to study biological changes caused by space travel.
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