A German Lunar X-Prize team has revealed plans to send two mobile probes to the moon to inspect the lunar rover that was left behind in 1972 by the Apollo 17 mission, the last crewed mission NASA sent to the moon.
The team known as Part-Time Scientists is one of the 16 teams that vie for the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize.
First Visitor In 44 Years
Part-Time Scientists' team could be the first to send a visitor to the Apollo 17 landing site in 44 years if its plans to send a pair of rovers to examine the lunar buggy that was left behind by astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan pushes through. The mission could also finally put an end to moon landing conspiracy theories.
Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories
Conspiracy theorists claim that the Apollo program and the lunar landings were mere hoaxes. They claim that NASA faked the six manned landings from 1969 and 1972 and that the 12 Apollo astronauts who were supposed to have walked on the moon did not land on the lunar surface.
Part-Time Scientists' planned mission to the moon may provide additional evidences to debunk the conspiracy theories.
Not Too Close To The Historic Site
Part-Time Scientists is the fourth team with bookings for a lunar flight. The team's plan is to set its Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module 2 to 3 miles from the Apollo 17 landing site and deploy two probes that would get a closer look of the site.
The rovers can't get very close to the historic site, though, since NASA's preservation guidelines require that rovers keep a distance of at least 200 meters from the site.
Data To Help In Plans To Build A Research Base On The Moon
The rovers come equipped with high-definition camera. The images this equipment would capture is anticipated to reveal how the deserted buggy, the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle, thrived under four decades of intense radiation and extreme lunar temperatures.
"Has it been ripped to shreds by micrometeorids, or is it still standing there like on the day they left?" the team's rover driver, Karsen Becker, said.
The data that the rovers would gather may also provide information that can help scientists and entrepreneurs planning to build a research base on the surface of the moon.