Publicado: Jue, Marcha 14, 2019
Ciencia | Por Aurelio Ontiveros

Toyota, Japan space agency join forces to develop moon rover

Toyota, Japan space agency join forces to develop moon rover

The auto company teamed up with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to develop a pressurized vehicle capable of carrying astronauts on the lunar surface without the need for space suits.

Toyota, with the help of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), intends to allow two astronauts to go for an extended joy ride on the Moon 10 years from now.

JAXA and Toyota are aiming to launch the rover in 2029, with human missions to follow in the 2030s. Toyota and JAXA have been jointly studying the concept of a manned, pressurized rover since May of 2018.

Toyota's announcement of the agreement is somewhat vague in its language, noting that the company and JAXA now have an agreement to "consider the possibility of collaborating on global space exploration".

Safety is a major concern for Toyota, so the automaker will pay careful attention to details to ensure any human astronaut returns safely from the lunar rover, to the vessel, and back to Earth. And I think that coming back alive is exactly what is needed in this project.

"Fuel cells, which use clean power-generation methods, emit only water, and, due to their high energy density, they can provide a lot of energy, making them especially suited for the project being discussed with JAXA", Terashi says, adding that the this type of vehicles emit lower amounts of harmful substances.

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"We aim to contribute through leading Japanese technologies that can potentially generate spin-off benefits", JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa, said.

Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth.

Toyota and JAXA have already been collaborating on the manned, pressurized rover, according to the release. Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills. The rover will be pressurized and have a claimed range of over 10,000 km.

The original manned moon rover was the Boeing LRV (Lunar Roving Vehicle), which was used during the Apollo space missions in the early 1970s.

JAXA, which succeeded in February in having the Hayabusa2 probe touch down on a distant asteroid, is now focusing on using the technology to achieve a controlled touchdown on the Moon's surface.

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