Toyota is all set to pair up with Japan’s space agency JAXA for the sake of building a moon rover. A spokesperson with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said, ‘We are planning to cooperate with Toyota in an exploration mission to the Moon.’ It has also been said that more details about this collaboration will be announced during a symposium in Tokyo next week.
JAXA appears to have taken a leaf out of NASA’s book – working in collaboration with commercial partners for achieving impressive space exploration goals. As per the JAXA website, the planned moon mission that might be called LUNAR-A will ‘directly investigate the interior of the Moon, which could provide a lot of data on the Moon’s origin and evolution.’
The crewless mission is supposed to execute a ‘hard landing’ on the moon’s surface. JAXA further says that the mission will have two purposes. The first is to collect information data about the moon’s core that is rich in iron. The spacecraft will be monitoring the ‘moonquakes’ using seismometers for collecting this information. The second goal of the mission will be to make use of heat-flow probes for measuring the heat flux.
The collected data from the LUNAR-A will help scientists to learn about the abundance of heat-generating radioactive elements that are present in the moon’s interior. However, there is no information about when the mission will be launched. It has been said though that the spacecraft built by Toyota and JAXA shall be shot into space aboard Japan’s-V launch vehicle and is slated to reach the moon six months following its takeoff.
JAXA website further states that the spacecraft will make use of two penetrators and burrow them down about one to three meters into the moon’s surface. The news of Toyota stepping into the picture comes when there is a renewed interest in the moon again. Almost fifty years after the first manned mission to the moon, it appears as if nations are gearing up to collect their own data about the moon. NASA already has plans for a crewless mission for the moon in 2024 whereas Israel has already launched a spacecraft that will be attempting a landing on the moon this year. So far, only China, Russia, and the US have been able to make the 384,000 kilometers journey and land spacecraft on the moon.
Let’s see how JAXA and Toyota fare in this attempt to collect information from the moon.