Europe’s Plans to Visit the Moon in 2018

The European Space Agency is aiming for the Moon with their Lunar Lander mission, anticipated to arrive on the lunar surface in 2018. Although ESA successfully put a lander on Titan with the Huygens probe in 2005, this will be the first European spacecraft to visit the surface of Earth’s Moon.

After more than 30 years, the Moon is once again in the spotlight of space agencies worldwide, as a destination for both robotic missions and human explorers. Europe’s ambitions for lunar exploration begin with a lander on the Moon in 2018.

Although Lunar Lander will be an unmanned robotic explorer, the mission will be a forerunner to future human exploration of the Moon as well as Mars. Lunar Lander will use advanced technologies for autonomous landing and will be able to determine the best location for touchdown on its own, utilizing lasers to avoid obstacles on the Moon’s surface.

With no GPS on the Moon, Lunar Lander will navigate by digitally imaging the surface on the fly. Landing will be accomplished via thrusters, which were successfully tested earlier this year at a test chamber in Germany.

Lunar Lander’s destination will be the Moon’s south pole, where no exploration missions have ever landed. Once on the lunar surface, the Lander will investigate Moon dust using a robotic arm and a suite of onboard diagnostic instruments, sending data and images back to scientists on Earth for further study.

Watch a video of the Lunar Lander mission below, from launch to landing.


You know... something is puzzling at the mention of lack of GPS on the moon.
Wouldn't it be relatively 'inexpensive' (from a monetary point of view) to launch numerous highly advanced satellites into Moons orbit (right now, Earth has numerous satellites that are using outdated technologies) prior to sending the robot up there?
I mean... the satellites could communicate with those satellites into Earth's orbit (I think) acting as sort of amplifiers... or we could deploy one or two in between the Earth and the moon to act as signal boosters.
Deploy enough of them with huge solar collectors and have them generate constant power that can power the robot via wireless means if necessary, and you can also install nice sensor technology to tell us more about the Moon itself.