An Emirates Lunar Rover lifted off yesterday from the United Arab Emirates’ first mission to the Moon, which blasted off early Wednesday using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. If the mission is successful, the UAE will become the fourth country to have a spacecraft on the Moon, following China, Russia, and the United States.
The Hakuto-R spacecraft, built by ispace, will be delivered to the Moon by the UAE-Japan mission. The rover, named Rashid (“rightly guided”), will be released from the craft after it lands in the Atlas crater on the Moon’s nearside after taking almost four months to arrive. It will then explore the lunar surface.
The rover, constructed by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, will study the lunar regolith’s composition using a high-resolution camera and a thermal-imaging camera. It will also photograph dust hovering over the surface, perform simple tests on lunar rocks, and study surface plasma conditions.
The rover will investigate a range of materials that might be utilized to construct lunar vehicles. The strips are attached to Rashid’s wheels to establish which materials are the greatest at resisting lunar dust and other harsh conditions. The University of Cambridge and the Université Libre de Bruxelles, for example, created a graphene-based composite material.
There are a lot of missions to the Moon currently underway or in the works. The UAE-Japan mission is one of them. In August, South Korea launched Danuri (meaning ‘enjoy the moon’), an orbiter. NASA’s Artemis rocket launched in November, carrying the Orion spacecraft that will take astronauts back to the Moon. India, Russia, and Japan will launch uncrewed landers in the first quarter of 2023, in addition to India, Russia, and Japan.
Planetary exploration promoters envision the Moon as the ideal departure point for crewed missions to Mars and other destinations. Scientists hope to determine whether lunar societies can sustain themselves and whether lunar resources can provide energy for future missions. Another possibility may have significant appeal on Earth. Planetary geologists believe that lunar dirt contains large quantities of helium-3, an isotope that could be used in nuclear fusion.
Image Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux