RUSSIA is planning a return to the Moon this year after not landing a spacecraft there for 45 years.
A mission called Luna 25 is set to launch in October 2021 and head to the icy south pole on the lunar surface.
The Russian mission aims to study Moon ice.
Lev Zelenyi, scientific advisor for the Russian Space Research Institute, said during a presentation last month: “The Moon is the centre of our program for the next decade.”
Zelenyi was speaking at a virtual event hosted by the National Academy of Sciences.
The US, China, India and Israel also have their sights set on exploring the Moon further.
Nasa even plans to put another man and the first woman on the Moon in 2024 with its Artemis program.
The US space agency will also be studying Moon ice.
Russia’s Luna 25 lander will research Moon ice to see if the trapped water could be used as a resource for future space explorers.
It will also assess the dangers of sharp lunar dust fragments in the ice.
The spacecraft will use a European Space Agency camera for some of its work.
Luna 25 is just one of five Moon missions that the Russian’s have planned.
It may launch its Luna 26 mission in 2023 or 2024 to snap photos of potential landing sights.
Zelenyi said a 2027 Luna 27 mission will also head to the south pole and potentially collect ice and lunar rock.
Another two Luna missions don’t have launch dates yet.
The Soviet Union Luna 1 mission launched back in 1959 and was the first spacecraft to escape Earth’s gravity.
Unfortunately, it missed the Moon but later Luna missions provided a lot of valuable information that we know about the Moon today.
The Moon – our closest neighbour explained
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
- It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
- The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
- Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
- Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
- It was eventually assigned to a “class” after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
- The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
- The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth’s gravity
- Earth and the Moon have “synchronous rotation”, which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase “dark side of the Moon”
- The Moon’s surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
- During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
- The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union’s Lunar program
- The first manned orbital mission was Nasa’s Apollo 8 in 1968
- And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission
In other space news, Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite broadband service could be fully up and running by the end of the year.
Nasa has completed the first controlled flight on another planet following the lift-off of its Mars helicopter-drone, Ingenuity.
And, the mystery surrounding what looks like giant spiders on the surface of Mars may finally have been solved.
Would you like to walk on the Moon? Let us know in the comments…
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