Feeds

UK plots first Moonshot

Pillinger: don't call us, etc.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Updated Britain's first Moon mission is being considered for funding by the government's Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.

A proposal from space technology firm Surrey Satellite Technology would see an orbiter sent to our nearest neighbour around 2010, the BBC reports.

The orbiter, dubbed Moonlight, would release four suitcase-sized probes to pile 2m into the suface at about 400mph and measure seismic activity, and other goings-on in the Moon's sub-surface.

Dr Andrew Coates of the Mullard Space Science Lab at University College London, which contributed to the proposal, said: "Previous missions have focused on the side of the Moon that faces the Earth. Our plan with Moonlight is for the first time is to explore the mysterious far side of the Moon as well."

The team hope a low-cost lunar mission would be a testing ground for instruments planned for forthcoming Mars exploration.

The proposal's author Sir Martin Sweeting estimates a bigger role in the new Space Race could cost Britain as little as €400m. He said: "In the UK, we have tremendous expertise in this area. A UK Moon programme would enable us to get a foothold in what could turn out to be an economically important area for a relatively low cost."

A successful Moonlight would be followed by the Moonraker lander, which would seek to identify potential sites for human habitation on the Moon's surface. NASA has said it intends to begin colonising around 2020. ®

Update

Several readers have written to point out that, contrary to our subhead, Britain's favourite interplanetary wurzel and Beagler Sir Colin "where's my probe?" Pillinger is in fact the ideal chief for a plan to crash high technology into non-Earth rocks. And, in keeping with Moonlight's low cost ethos, he'd probably do it for six flagons of rough cyder.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.