Lunar Polar Coring Lander - Abstract
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Lunar Polar Coring Lander

Raymond Hudson, et. all

May 7, 1990

Executive Summary

As a new era in manned space exploration of the solar system begins, NASA is turning its sight back to the Moon. Plans to build a lunar base are presently being studied with a number of considerations. One of the most important considerations is qualifying and quantifying the presence of water on the moon. The existence of water on the Moon implies that future lunar settlements may be able to use this resource to produce things such as drinking water and rocket fuel. Due to the very high cost of transporting these materials to the Moon, in situ production could save billions of dollars in operating costs of the lunar base.

Scientists have suggested that the polar regions of the Moon may contain some amounts of water ice in the regolith. This report suggests six possible mission scenarios which would allow lunar polar soil samples to be collected for analysis. The options presented are: Remote sensing satellite, two unmanned robotic lunar coring missions (one is a sample return and one is a data return only), two combined manned and robotic polar coring missions, and one fully manned core retrieval mission. All the missions have their own advantages and all are considered to be viable with little to no required advancement of the present state of technology.

One of the combined manned and robotic missions has been singled out for detailed analysis. This mission proposes sending at least three unmanned robotic landers to the lunar pole to take core samples as deep as 15 meters. Upon successful completion of the coring operations, a manned mission would be sent to retrieve the samples and perform extensive experiments of the polar region.

Man's first step in returning to the Moon is recommended to investigate the issue of lunar polar water. The potential benefits of lunar water more than warrant sending either astronauts, robots or both to the Moon before any permanent facility is constructed.