Australia will be sending a rover to the moon for the first time a few years from now, if all goes according to plan.
The nation will put a robotic rover on one of NASA’s Artemis moon missions, with a launch set to take place in 2026, according to the Australian Space Agency.
“Drawing on Australia’s world-leading expertise in remote operations, the rover will collect lunar soil known as regolith,” the agency said. wrote in a statement On Tuesday (5 September). “NASA will try to extract oxygen from the sample. This is a major step towards a sustainable human presence on the Moon.”
Related: See the Artemis 3 landing site at the Moon’s south pole in new NASA images
The vehicle doesn’t have a name yet, but the Australian Space Agency is working on it. The agency has just launched a contest to pin a nickname on its lead robot, and you can participate — if you’re based in Australia.
You have until October 20th to submit your entry. The Australian Space Agency will select its four preferred candidates from public submissions, then submit the shortlist to a public vote. The winner will be announced in early December.
You can learn more about the naming contest, including important rules and deadlines, at here.
NASA is working to establish a permanent, sustainable human presence on and around the Moon by the end of 2020 through the Artemis program. NASA officials say the skills and knowledge gained in doing so will enable humanity’s next giant leap, a manned mission to Mars.
NASA has launched one Artemis mission so far — Artemis 1, which sent the uncrewed Orion spacecraft to lunar orbit and back late last year. The agency is preparing to send four astronauts around the moon aboard the Artemis 2 spacecraft, which is scheduled to launch in late 2024.
The next mission after that, Artemis 3, will descend near the moon’s south pole in late 2025 or 2026, if all goes according to plan.
NASA is leveraging a variety of commercial and international partnerships to achieve its ambitious Artemis goals, as evidenced by the inclusion of the Australian rover on an upcoming mission. In addition, the European Space Agency provides the Orion service module, and SpaceX’s next-generation Starship will be the first manned lunar lander in the program.
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