Japan plans to land rover on the Moon by 2018

The lander will use specialized software to recognize craters on the surface.
By Andrew McDonald | Apr 24, 2015
As reported by CNN, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has revealed its plan to land an unmanned rover on the Moon by 2018. The mission, estimated to cost between 10 billion and 15 billion ($83.4 million to $125 million), was explicated during a presentation to an expert panel on April 20. The panel included cabinet members and officials from the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

If approved, the mission will become the latest in a string of successful Japanese space endeavors. In 2008, the SELENE probe orbited the Moon and returned data on the lunar surface, data that will be used to determine a favorable landing site for the future rover.

Other Asian nations have also carried out recent successful space missions, such as China's Yutu lunar rover and India's Mars Orbiter Mission. If successful, Japan will be come one of only four nations to land vehicles on the lunar surface, the other three being the United States, former Soviet Union, and China.

"This is an initial step and a lot of procedures are still ahead before the plan is formally approved," a JAXA spokesperson told reporters.

The future rover will be a SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) probe launched aboard an Epsilon solid-fuel rocket. The rover mission will tests soft-landing methods that could be applied to future missions to the Moon or Mars. The lander will be able to recognize individuals craters on the lunar surface using modified face recognition software made for digital cameras.

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