NASA is inviting nations to put in place an International Lunar Network (ILN) of science nodes on the Moon.
Alan Stern, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, presented details here at the 39th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) being held this week in League City, Texas.
The plan is to ban nations together “to build something much greater than any of us can afford to build on our own,” Stern told an LPSC audience today.
The high-tech network would make use of 21st century technology, with the goal of having the network running five to seven years from now, Stern explained.
To kick off the ILN, NASA would lob on one launcher two small landing packages, one each to the poles of the Moon. The target launch date is 2013-2014. A second pair of U.S. nodes would fly in 2016-2017.
Other nations are being invited to fly their nodes to the Moon, either fixed platforms or mobile hardware, Stern added. Each node would carry a core set of science instruments, and nations can add experiment packages beyond that core hub of devices.
NASA is also studying the prospect of putting in place an ILN communications relay orbiter if parties in the network would like to have their nodes on the Moon’s farside.