In Seven Weeks A Private Israeli Probe Will Land On The Moon

in #science2 years ago

It all started with a competition known as Moon 2.0 or the Google Lunar XPRIZE. It’s for teams of private companies that are supposed to land on the moon with a robotic module and perform a few tasks. But the competition was eventually canceled as none of the companies managed to land on the Moon in time.

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But now, after a year we finally get a winner. Though they will not get any prize, several teams are still going for the Moon. And if everything will go okay, the first of the teams will become the historically first private company to land on the Moon.

The winner should be an Israeli company known as SpaceIL. On the 21st February, the Falcon 9 rocket started from Cape Canaveral. It took the more than half-ton probe Beresheet (originally known as Sparrow) to a route to the Moon. Now, if nothing unexpected happens, the Beresheet module will land on Moon in Mare Serenitalis on the 11th of April. The module will be working for about two days on the Moon’s surface. It will be measuring the local magnetic field using a magnetometer made in the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Some of you, who know their Moon facts may be thinking, why is it taking so long for the module to get there when it took the Apollo missions just three days? And recently, the Chinese took only 5 days. Well, the Beresheet probe is taking a bit of a detour because it shared space in the rocket with two other modules – an Indonesian communication satellite and an experimental US Air Force satellite. Those had to get to their orbits as well.

This made the ride very cheap for SpaceIL, but on the other hand, they couldn’t have had chosen their path in space. That is why the Israeli probe is taking the longest ever route towards the Moon. It will travel about 6.5 million kilometers even though the Moon is only 380 thousands kilometers away.

The whole ordeal certainly wasn’t easy. But if it (and hopefully it will) succeed they will get long-lasting praise as they will be the first private company to make it to the Moon.

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