Credit: Roscosmos

Russian scientists see an agreement signed soon between Russia and China on the creation of an International Lunar Scientific Station (ILRS).

According to Russia’s TASS news agency, the forthcoming inking of a formal agreement on the ILRS was detailed by Anatoly Petrukovich, head of Russia’s group of ILRS experts. He is also director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI RAS).

Petrukovich discussed details at the now underway XIII Moscow Symposium on the Study of the Solar System, as also noted by the informative Novosti-Kosmonavtiki news site.

Artist’s view of China/Russia International Lunar Research Station to be completed by 2035. Credit: CNSA/Roscosmos

Full-fledged agreement

“Even last year, a memorandum was signed between Russia and China on cooperation in the development of plans for the creation of the International Scientific Lunar Station,” Petrukovich said. “Cooperation is developing systematically…our joint scientific groups are working, and a full-fledged agreement on the implementation of this program will be signed in the near future.”

Petrukovich said that Chinese and Russian experts have identified nine priority scientific topics for cooperation, such as: lunar topography and geology, internal structure, chemistry, circumlunar space, as well as the possible construction of lunar telescopes and scientific instruments for observing the Earth and outer space, as well as searching for particles of light dark matter.

Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft.
Credit: Lavochkin/Roscosmos

Russia’s Luna program

Identified as a first phase of the ILRS project, China’s Chang’e and Russia’s Luna spacecraft will carry out reconnaissance and collect data necessary for the implementation of the cooperation program.

In particular, as Petrukovich noted, the next three missions under the Luna program will help scientists choose the most optimal place for building a base in terms of resource availability and scientific feasibility.

That said, Russian space specialists in the Luna program have announced significant slips in rekindling the country’s Moon exploration program, with the first in the series, Luna-25, now delayed for launch until next year. Similarly, follow-on probes in the Luna series are likely slipping too.

Anatoly Petrukovich, head of Russia’s group of ILRS experts. He is also director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI RAS).
Via Novosti-Kosmonavtiki

Joint research

Petrukovich reportedly said that experts have not yet reached a consensus on whether the base will be built at one point or spaced apart, which is optimal from the point of view of astrophysical research.

To scope out answers, Russian and Chinese scientists have prepared 14 proposals for joint research within the framework of the Chang’e and Luna missions, including those related to the search for water reserves on the Moon and the study of the properties of regolith and lunar soil.

A second phase of the ILRS initiative, which is targeted to start in 2026, scientists will work on testing life support systems, as well as developing systems for delivering heavy payloads to the Moon. The construction of the base will be completed in 2035.

Credit: JAXA/NHK

Earth-looking work

The ILRS is also to have an Earth-looking component.

Liu Guang, professor at the Institute of Aerospace Information Research of the Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said the scientific outpost on the Moon will be used to conduct unique studies of the Earth.

As part of this scientific package, observations of the state of glaciers, the level of greenhouse gas emissions, the movement of the global “conveyor of currents” in the world ocean and other global processes affecting the entire planet as a whole, would be addressed, according to Novosti-Kosmonavtiki.

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