It seems that the world is willing to dig deep so that we can dig deep on the moon.
Yesterday, the UK’s recently announced Lunar Mission One venture—which intends to send a robot to drill into the moon’s south pole—reached its £600,000 target ($942,000) on Kickstarter, with more than 30 hours to spare. This means that the independent project now has more than enough money to move forward and start turning plans into reality.
Even though the project has exceeded its crowdfunding goal, people all over the world are continuing to pledge their pennies, which could have something to do with the fact that generous backers have the opportunity to bury their DNA in a time capsule under the moon’s surface, among other things. And the extra dosh won’t go to waste; if Lunar Mission One reaches £700,000 by midnight tonight, the entire set-up phase can be funded solely using public donations.
So far, the ambitious project has close to 7,000 backers from more than 60 different countries. But it’s not just the general public that is lauding this new lunar effort; esteemed British physicists Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking are also showing their support, with both praise and money.
“Today they have achieved what are the first steps towards a lasting legacy for space exploration,” Hawking said in a statement. “Lunar Mission One is bringing space exploration to the people, and I have no doubt that young people and adults alike will be inspired by the ambition and passion of all those involved in the project. As a truly scientists endeavour, I wish it nothing but success over the coming years.”
Lunar Mission One aims to send an unmanned robotic probe to the moon’s south pole, an area that has been neglected by previous lunar missions. They intend to develop pioneering drill technology to penetrate the moon’s surface, reaching depths of between 20 to 100 meters, which is a minimum of ten times deeper than any previous drilling efforts. This will give scientists the opportunity to analyse rock samples that are 4.5 billion years old, which will hopefully shed light on the history of the satellite and whether it shares a common origin with Earth. They also want to investigate the feasibility of establishing a permanently manned base on the moon, which could lead to cheaper space exploration.
But the ambitious project doesn’t end there. Alongside furthering our understanding of the moon and the early solar system, Lunar Mission One is starting a global education program aimed at inspiring young people all across the world to explore space, engineering and technology, which we can all agree is a wonderful thing.
[Via Kickstarter, Wired and PopSci]