The first lunar rover from the United Arab Emirates and a toy-like Japanese robot that is designed to roll around in space in the grey dust were launched on board a SpaceX rocket by a Tokyo business on Sunday. The lander’s journey to the moon, together with its associated experiments, will take about five months. For financial reasons and to provide greater capacity for freight, the company ispace built its craft to utilise less fuel. Therefore, it is travelling 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometres) from Earth before turning around and colliding with the moon at the end of April.
In contrast, it took five days for NASA’s Orion crew capsule and test dummies to reach the moon last month. The Pacific splashdown on Sunday marks the end of the lunar flyby mission.
The Atlas crater, measuring more than 50 miles (87 kilometres) broad and little over one mile (2 kilometres) deep, is located in the northeastern region of the moon’s near side and will be the target of the ispace lander. The lander stands taller than 7 feet (2.3 metres) when all four of its legs are extended.
The UAE plans to study the moon in addition to Mars, where a science satellite is already in orbit. Just like everything else on the project, the rover, dubbed Rashid after the royal family of Dubai, weighs only 22 pounds (10 kilogrammes) and will function on the surface for roughly 10 days.
Additionally, a Japanese Space Agency orange-sized sphere that will change into a wheeled robot on the moon is aboard the lander. A solid state battery from a Japanese spark plug firm, a flight computer with artificial intelligence from an Ottawa, Ontario, company, and 360-degree cameras from a Toronto-area company are also in flight.
A small NASA laser experiment that was transported by the rocket is currently travelling independently to the moon to look for ice in the permanently shadowed craters of the lunar south pole.
Hakuto, which is Japanese for white rabbit, is the name of the space mission. A white rabbit is rumoured to reside on the moon in Asian legend. The private business intends to conduct a second lunar landing in 2024 and a third in 2025.
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Ispace, which was established in 2010, placed among the top three in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, which called for a successful moon landing by 2018. Ispace’s lunar rover was never launched.
2019 saw the moon landing of a different candidate, an Israeli nonprofit organisation called SpaceIL. However, the Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon and was obliterated rather than making a soft landing.
Since the former Soviet Union’s Luna 9 in 1966, only Russia, the U.S., and China have accomplished so-called “soft landings” on the moon. With 12 men across six landings, the U.S. is the only country to have sent astronauts to the moon.
(With inputs from agencies)
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