Australia announces Moon mission, rover to extract oxygen from lunar soil


As India’s Chandrayaan-3 goes into lunar sleep, the Australian Space Agency, in collaboration with Nasa, is developing a rover under the Trailblazer program of the Moon to Mars initiative.

The rover, leveraging Australia’s expertise in remote operations, will collect lunar soil, or regolith, from which Nasa aims to extract oxygen, a crucial move towards establishing a long-term human presence on the Moon.

The rover is set to embark on its lunar journey as part of Nasa’s future Artemis mission, with a projected launch date as early as 2026. This marks a significant milestone for Australia’s space industry, as it will be the country’s first rover to land on the Moon.

However, this pioneering robot is yet to be named, and the Australian Space Agency has turned to the public for help.

A competition has been launched, inviting Australian residents to propose a name for the rover. Entries are open until October 20th, after which the agency will shortlist four favorites for a public vote. The winning name will be announced in early December.

This project aligns with Nasa’s ambitious Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent and sustainable human presence on and around the Moon by the end of this decade. The knowledge and skills acquired through these missions will pave the way for humanity’s next giant leap: a crewed mission to Mars.

Nasa has already launched one Artemis mission, Artemis 1, which sent an uncrewed Orion spacecraft to lunar orbit and back last year. Preparations are underway for Artemis 2, scheduled for late 2024, which will send four astronauts around the Moon.

Following that, Artemis 3, planned for late 2025 or 2026, will see astronauts landing near the lunar south pole, marking another significant step in lunar exploration.