Friday, April 20, 2007

MoonTwins mission paves way to Mars

Aerospace company Astrium is working at the request of the European Space Agency on a two probe mission to the Moon, and is being promoted as a proving flight for technologies required for a Mars sample return mission. The MoonTwins mission (Moon Technological Walk-through and In-situ Network Science) would be launched together on the same rocket, but split up in Earth orbit for independent travel to the Moon. Once in lunar orbit, the probes would first practice linking up (a crucial part of any mission to retrieve material from Mars) and then descend seperately to the surface. One of the probes would likely be targeted for the so called Peak of Eternal Light, close to the rim of Shackleton crater. This is thought of as an excellent potential target for human settlement due to its near continuous exposure to sunlight, important for power generation. More detail on this story can be found at the bbc.