Remember how exciting it was when Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon? Those footsteps changed the world. It’s been over forty years since anyone’s gone up there to follow in them, but that could change. For the Russians at least, the Moon isn’t some “has been” in the solar system, forgotten in the wake of Mars and Pluto. They are looking to go back, and they might just leave a little more there than footprints.
Russian space agency Roscosmos debuted a model of the Luna 25 module, also knows as the Luna Glob Lander at the recent International Air Show in Moscow .The agency hopes to launch it in 2024, once it is complete and tested and along with that task will be building the instruments that will be on board.
Much like the United States, during the early years when the Apollo program was leading the race to space, the former Soviet Union was also actively pursuing a manned landing on the moon. While Roscosmos did land mechanical rovers on the surface of the Moon, they were ultimately not successful in getting astronauts to the moon. The program was eventually halted, after difficulties with rockets and some catastrophic explosions made putting a human crew into space a far too dangerous mission to contemplate.
Vladislav Tretyakov, a researcher in nuclear planetology at the Russian Space Research Institute, said in an interview with Sputniknews.com, "The main difference from Soviet missions, which brought back space material to Earth, is that research will be carried out directly on board the probe."
Tretyakov also pointed out that previous Soviet missions to the moon had been at latitudes near the equator of the planet and this mission will aim to land on the south pole of the Moon in 2024.
The new module will run on Plutonium 238, which is not weapons grade material and is less dangerous to humans than other forms of nuclear material. As it decays, it produces heat, which is then converted into electricity which will power the spacecraft.
The equipment fitted onto the spacecraft will be focused on the composition of the soil and the atmosphere. In addition to eight video cameras, the module will have a complex digging tool to collect soil samples as well as an infrared spectrometer and neutron gamma and laser mass spectrometers. Tretyakov, in the same interview with Sputniknews.com, stressed the goal of reclaiming and relearning some of the technology of lunar survival saying, "This mission is a scientific-technological one. We want to carry out scientific experiments there, but this is a technological mission in the sense that we need to return to the Moon, learn how to land, and survive the lunar night, since a lot of what was achieved in the 1970's has been forgotten."
The Luna 25 mission is the beginning of a long-range proposal to establish a Russian lunar base on the moon. Plans call for the base to have a landing and launch area, solar power generators and a long-distance research lunar rover for collecting soil samples and images of the Moon’s surface. Check out the video below to learn more about the futuristic lunar mission.
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