Scientific exploration and discoveries at the Moon enable learning about the origin of planetary bodies and life, and our position in the cosmos. The Moon also provides a potential first economic sphere beyond Earth and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and could provide a first-off world location for sustained living to learn about the Solar System, prepare for future onward exploration and to help with addressing present day challenges on Earth.
ESA is contributing to and preparing for lunar science exploration over the coming decades, bringing together the vision and strong science and technological expertise of the European lunar community. A focus of the presentation will be updating on the findings and progress being made by ESA and its Member States in preparation for science at, on and from the Moon. Such preparations aim to address key outstanding science questions across multiple science fields and addressing the challenges for the next generation of sustained and responsible human and robotic exploration.
Key activities include science payload contributions to the upcoming first NASA CLPS flights, development studies of a European Large Logistic Lander (EL3) for lunar surface access and tools for crewed geological exploration. Several science mission themes and associated payload suite development studies are currently exploring: lunar In situ resource utilisation (ISRU) demonstration; prospecting for local resources at lunar polar regions and investigating the volatile history of the Moon; utilising the Moon as a natural laboratory to understand its surface-space environment and to investigate physical, geological and biological processes and effects under lunar conditions; utilising the radio-quiet lunar farside as a platform for observing the cosmos in the low-frequency range.
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