The Moon as seen from the International Space Station, taken by ESA British astronaut, Tim Peake. Credit: NASA/ESA

The Moon as seen from the International Space Station, taken by ESA British astronaut, Tim Peake.
Credit: NASA/ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released an impressive and highly informative “Interactive Guide to the Moon.”

The why and how of lunar exploration is detailed, an authoritative blueprint that’s detailed and carved up into categories: Science, Technology and Missions.

Moon first strategy

ESA’s exploration strategy is in line with the Global Exploration Roadmap drawn up by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. That European strategy considers the Moon as the next destination for humans venturing beyond low Earth-orbit. Doing so is viewed as an integral part of the roadmap towards human missions to Mars.

The new website looks at historic and future lunar missions characterized in 5 categories: landers, rovers, Apollo, orbiters and robotic sample return.

Human-robot partnership

Dusty legacy of Apollo. Europe's blueprint adopts Moon-first approach as precursor to humans to Mars. Credit: NASA

Dusty legacy of Apollo. Europe’s blueprint adopts Moon-first approach as precursor to humans to Mars.
Credit: NASA

“Scenarios for robotic explorers foresee a stronger human-robot partnership,” the site explains. “The ESA-led study HERACLES envisions a first surface mission in the mid-2020s. This mission would collect samples using a rover that drives the material back to a rocket that would launch to a station orbiting the Moon. The crew aboard this outpost would retrieve the sample for further analysis.”

Looking to the future, the website explains that European and Russian space agencies are working together to send a lander to the Moon’s South Pole. The PROSPECT package aims at collecting and analyzing samples on the Moon and is being developed by ESA for the Russian Luna 27 mission, scheduled for flight in 2020.

Credit: Public Domain/Dylan O'Donnell

Credit: Public Domain/Dylan O’Donnell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To explore this unique and info-packed site, go to:

http://lunarexploration.esa.int/#/intro

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