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Japan should send robot to explore Moon: Experts

TOKYO (AFP): An expert panel advising the Japanese government in a report has approved for the nation to send a wheeled robot to the Moon in five years and to build the first lunar base by 2020.

It is extremely important to probe the Moon... as we now see the dawn of the age of great exploration in the solar system,” the report formally adopted by the panel said Thursday.

“China, India and other countries are aiming to probe the Moon. If Japan’s activity is delayed, it will become difficult to maintain our superiority in science regarding the Moon,” it said.

Noting a Japanese observation satellite had succeeded in sending high-definition images of the entire Moon, the report argued the nation needed to enhance its probe also for the sake of its “international presence.”

The panel, made up of experts from the state-funded Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as well as business and academia, approved the report as it wrapped up a one-year debate on what form the nation’s Moon probe should take.

Under the plan, the robot's tasks would include setting up an observation device and gathering geological samples for sending back to Earth. The robot would also set up solar panels to generate energy.

The team also envisions building the world's first station on the south pole of the moon in 2020, to be staffed by advanced wheeled robots.

It initially considered sending a two-legged humanoid but judged a “rover-type” robot more practical due to the bumpy surface.

The group estimates the unmanned mission would cost 200 billion yen ($200 billion) over the next 10 years, which could be a problem given government’s efforts to cut expenditure.


Japan  Moon  

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