The European Lunar South Pole Expedition (EuroMoon 2000) is a proposal to mark Europe's entry into the next Millennium with a visit to the Moon's South Pole in the year 2000, a mission that would demonstrate Europe's ability to take the initiative for a new international lunar programme.
Challenged by ESA's Long-Term Space Policy Committee (LSPC) to come up with a suitable space mission to mark the dawn of the new Millennium for Europe, the Agency's engineers and scientists have devised this lunar mission, which combines a lunar Orbiter and a lunar Lander spacecraft. The initial two-month orbital phase would provide the topographical and geographical knowledge required for a safe landing. The Lander would then separate and land on the rim of a crater at the lunar South Pole, where it would exploit the advantage of permanent sunlight to search for possible frozen volatiles, such as water, in the permanently shaded crater base. The Lander would also release robotic experiments (see below) to explore the largest and probably oldest lunar crater, the Aitken Basin.
In addition to the basic scientific instrumentation, payload mass would also be allocated to a 'Millennium Challenge'. This contest for the 'Lunar South Pole Trophy' would result in the selection of a few micro-rovers or other mobility devices (harpoons?) to explore the Moon's South Pole, which lies within the 20 km-diameter and 3000 m-deep crater. Meanwhile, the Orbiter would continue to pursue its observation mission.
By undertaking EuroMoon 2000, Europe would play a pioneering role by:
The time is right for Europe to take this first step in the Long-Term International Lunar Programme, the principle of which was endorsed by the ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level in Toulouse in October 1995, given that lunar initiatives by other countries are to be expected in the 2002/2003 time frame.