Ritika Dubey, The Canadian Press
Edmonton – The Canadian spacecraft will help reveal the hidden side of our satellite.
The first lunar module to be built in Canada will allow the Canadian Space Agency to play a major role in space exploration. Its mission will be to search for ice under the lunar surface.
The moon rotates on its axis in sync with the period of its revolution. This is why we only see one side of it.
Gordon Osinsky, head of the Canadian mission, sums up: “Our imaginations have always been blown: what is on the far side of the moon?”
Professor Osinski’s team, in collaboration with other international partners, is preparing to send the 30 kg rover to the lunar south pole in 2026 to search for ice just a few meters below the lunar surface.
Chris Hurd, a team member and professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, says the ice discovery could serve as a springboard for further explorations of the solar system and even human missions.
Pr Herd participated in the probe mission to Mars. “The ice can be extracted and used as a resource to enable astronauts to survive,” he explains. It can be divided into hydrogen and oxygen for fuel, avoiding the transportation of these resources from the earth and saving money.
It reduces the cost of sending humans to the moon. This is the ultimate goal.
Professor Osinski notes that interest in lunar exploration has grown over the past five years. There are increasing plans to send astronauts, as there were in the Apollo missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He adds that the robotic rover will play a key role in making this dream come true.
In November, the Canadian Space Agency gave responsibility for manufacturing this vehicle to Canadensys in Ontario. It will work with other partners to develop scientific equipment that will be sent to the moon.
Canadensys works with six Canadian universities, including the University of Sherbrooke, companies such as Montreal-based Maya HTT and Sherbrooke-based NGC Aerospace, and partners in the US and UK.
The rover must be able to withstand extreme temperature changes on the Earth’s satellite, from -200°C at night to 100°C during the day. It will also have to withstand high radiation and data transmission over the course of its mission months.
The car will run on solar energy seven days a week, 24 hours a day, but will have to be put “at rest” every 14 days.
Scientists won’t just be looking for ice. They will analyze the composition of the lunar rock soil and study the radiation on the moon’s surface to see how much radiation future astronauts will be exposed to.
“What the rover will do is prepare for the next human missions,” said Christian Salaberger, CEO of Canadensys Aerospace Corporation.
Not only will Canada be the first country to land on the far side of the Moon, it will be the first to explore the South Pole. Scientists think they have discovered ice in the dark craters.
China has become the first country to send a rover, Yutu-2, to the far side of Earth’s moon.
Prof Uscinski wouldn’t be surprised if other nations beat Canada to the far side of the moon, but the mission remains “incredibly exciting”.
“I almost have to stop myself from pushing myself now and then. This is what my work has led me to over the past few decades.”
This article was produced with financial support from Facebook and The Canadian Press News Fellowships.
Note to readers: In an earlier version of this post, The Canadian Press erroneously wrote that the Moon does not rotate on itself. But this is wrong. The moon rotates on its axis in sync with the period of its revolution. This is why we only see one side.
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