A European drill and sample analysis package will search for water ice and other chemicals under the lunar surface onboard the Russian-led Luna-27 mission to the South Polar region of the Moon.
Operating at temperatures of less than –100 °C and drilling over one metre down, Prospect first needs to penetrate the lunar surface. This video features a series of drilling tests carried out at the Leonardo facilities in Italy in 2019.
Prospect includes a miniature laboratory called ProSPA which will analyse the soil samples retrieved by the drill. Precise measurements will help unearth the secrets of the Moon’s history and indicate whether future explorers could use lunar resources on their missions to help set up a lunar base.
The lunar south polar region is of great interest to lunar researchers and explorers because the low angle of the Sun over the horizon leads to areas of partial or even complete shadow. These shadowed areas and permanently dark crater floors, where sunlight never reaches, are believed to hide water ice and other frozen substances that could be analysed to better understand the natural processes that formed them, and used to produce resources such as oxygen and propellant in the future.