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Monday, August 04, 2008

Moon Leads to International Agreement

Nine nations from around the globe have signed an international agreement to explore the moon and lay the groundwork for a new generation of lunar exploration and science at the NASA's Ames Research Center recently.

A multinational fleet of robotic spacecraft will be going to the moon to study the surface and geology in this decade as NASA plans to return humans to its surface by 2020. The United States, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Britain and France each signed the unique exploration agreeement to share lunar exploration costs.

The agreement provides for a network to monitor the moon's seismic activity that would stretch from the poles to the far side. India hopes to send its Chandrayaan-1 probe to orbit the moon this year. China's Chang'e probe and Japan's Selene are already there. Japan is expected to launch the first of the spacecraft, a rover, by 2012, with two American landers, called the NASA Anchor Nodes, following soon after. China, not a part of the international agreement, is also expected to continue its lunar exploration with surface rovers.

"The exploration of the moon in the next decade will not be human, it will be this international flotilla," said David Morrison, interim director of the newly created Lunar Science Institute at Ames. "Ultimately, I think we will send people to the moon, but we don't have to wait for that."

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