ESA Developing a Lunar Ice Drill, a Step to Accomplish Their Moon Village
ESA has announced their plan to go back to the moon and possibly create a 'moon village' where man can thrive for days at a time. This is all part of their grand Lunar Exploration. And in order to do that, they are preparing the equipment needed for the mission including a lunar ice drill capable of digging 1-2m holes onto the surface of the moon.
ESA recently showed a prototype of their Lunar Ice Drill which is capable of digging a 1-2m hole into the icy surface of the moon. This equipment is being designed for their moon mission in 2020 aboard Russia's Luna 27.
"It is an essential part of a science and exploration package being developed to reach, extract and analyze samples from beneath the surface in the Moon's south polar region," said lunar exploration systems engineer Richard Fisackerly in an interview with SpaceRef.
ESA's scientists have already identified the possible landing site and the possible drilling area on the moon.
The drill which is developed in Italy would be able to penetrate the "regolith" or the lunar soil. The samples gathered will be sent back to Earth for further analysis in a facility currently being developed in the UK.
The technology was successfully tested in a simulated lunar soil at -140 degrees to mimic the icy condition of the moon. But experts say that scientists should keep in mind that the other regions of the moon might be colder than expected.
The drill is called the Platform for Resource Observation and in-Situ Prospecting in support of Exploration, Commercial exploitation & Transportation (PROSPECT). It is only one of the commissioned technologies by ESA for their Lunar exploration.
ESA said in a press release that the projects commisioned for their Lunar mission, including the lunar ice drill, are being developed by ESA's Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration. The projects will be proposed to get an approval to launch by the by ESA's Council of European Ministers in December 2016.