University of Glasgow lends expertise to Lunar Mission One

Published: 19 November 2014

Scientists from the University of Glasgow have pledged their support to the Lunar Mission One project.

Scientists from the University of Glasgow have pledged their support to the Lunar Mission One project.

Lunar Mission One is an exploratory robotic mission that will use pioneering drilling technology to deliver extraordinary new insights into the origins of the Moon and the Earth. The mission was officially unveiled today (Wednesday 19 November) at the Royal Society in London.

The project aims to send an international robotic lander to the South Pole of the Moon, an area unexplored by previous missions. The lander will use innovative methods to drill down to a depth of at least 20 metres, 10 times deeper than has ever been drilled before. The lander will access lunar rock dating back up to 4.5 billion years and carry out scientific experiments that will provide significant new insights into the origins and evolution of the Moon and Earth.

The global crowd-funding platform Kickstarter will finance the next phase of development. Kickstarter supporters will become inaugural members of the Lunar Missions Club and will be rewarded with a range of involvement, information and rewards including their own ‘digital memory box’. These memory boxes will eventually go on sale to the general public and all of them will be included in a 21st century time capsule to be buried on the moon as part of the mission.

Alongside these individual archives, the project also aims to create a public archive to go in the capsule: a digital record of human history and civilisation, and a scientific description of the biosphere with a database of species.

Professor Graham Woan, of the University of Glasgow's School of Physics and Astronomy, said: "Lunar Mission One is an exciting project with lots of potential for broadening our understanding of the Universe, in addition to its primary mission of drilling and preserving samples below the Moon's surface.

“Equipment carried on the lander will help us learn more about the Moon's electromagnetic environment and its potential as a site for a new type of radio astronomy, and we're delighted to help make this a reality."

Professor Douglas Paul, director of the School of Engineering’s James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, said: "We've offered our support to advise on the best method of storing written information in nanoscale script on materials such as silicon or diamond, which are robust enough to endure over the millions of years supporters' samples will be held on the moon.

“We've already had great success in nanoscale publishing, including printing the complete works of Robert Burns in letters 1/36,000th the width of a human hair, small enough to fit the text on the head of a pin 10 times over, and we're excited to have the opportunity of lending our expertise to Lunar Mission One."

Lunar Mission One is being run by Lunar Missions Ltd, its operating company. It is being developed and supported by a number of leading figures and organisations in the industry with decades of experience in the science and space sectors.

Partners and advisers include RAL Space, University College London, Open University and the Institute of Education. Trustees and directors include Ian Taylor, former UK Government Science Minister; Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary & Space Science at Open University; Sir Graeme Davies, Former University Vice Chancellor; and Angela Lamont, broadcast media presenter & producer.

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First published: 19 November 2014

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