Crowd-funded Lunar Mission One will drill hole into Moon for science and photos

by | Nov 19, 2014 | Seradata News | 0 comments

A new privateer project to send an unmanned lunar drilling mission to the Moon has been announced.  Lunar Mission One will send an unmanned robotic landing module to the South Pole of the Moon.  The mission will use pioneering technology to drill down to a depth of at least 20m – 10 times deeper than has ever been drilled before – and potentially as deep as 100m in an attempt to discover the geological composition of the Moon, the ancient relationship it shares with our planet and the effects of asteroid bombardment.

The project which is led by former UK Science Minister Ian Taylor.  The “carrot” to help this funding scheme is that investors will be able to send a “memory” box containing photographs, other images and even their own DNA via a hairstrand to the Moon.

The drilling operations for Lunar Mission One will use a development of the latest wireline drilling technology to lower the low mass drill system into the hole, where it will anchor itself to the side of the borehole. It will cut a 5cm diameter hole, taking approximately 1 hour to drill 15cm. The drill will be configured to extract 2.5cm diameter core samples of about 15 cm in length, which will be returned to the surface for scientific analysis. The drill will then continue drilling further beneath the surface. A casing or stub tube may be inserted to ensure the stability of the hole near the surface.

Once the hole has been drilled to the target depth, the drill assembly will be used to put in place long term borehole monitoring equipment. It will also deliver the 21st century equivalent of a time capsule containing the public archive, digital memory boxes and DNA samples to the base of the borehole which will then be plugged.

The lander design is at a very early stage and no contractor has been appointed.  However, the project is backed with technical advice from various science and space technology institutions including RAL space at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, University College London (UCL), and the Open University.

Comment by David Todd:  The big question is: Are they also going to test for water ice?   A confirmation of the presence of water ice, suspected since remote observations of hydrogen ions by other lunar orbiting spacecraft, would make a human lunar base much more feasible. Such a finding would probably be much more important than any drilled out core sample. A lunar water search mission called the ESA Lunar Lander, had been proposed to ESA by the German Aerospace Establishment (DLR) but was dropped in favour of funding other programmes.

As for the history archiving art of the mission, it is notable that TV historian, Dan Snow, is involved.  Let us hope that he mounts a stout defence against those that are keen to rewrite history in their own view.

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