The Japanese space agency (JAXA) is embarking on a mammoth $2.2 billion project to put humanoid robots on the Moon and create an unmanned robot lunar base by 2020, according to the Japanese Prime Ministers office, noted by CnetNews and NASA.
A Japanese government panel has produced a draft paper outlining how humanoid rover robots will begin surveying the moon by 2015, according to a report by the prime minister’s office.
As part of the $2.2 billion project, the droids will begin construction of an unmanned base near the south pole of the moon that will be powered by solar panels, according to the panel chaired by Waseda University President Katsuhiko Shirai.
Weighing about 660 pounds, the droids will roll on treads and operate within a 60-mile radius of the base. They’ll be equipped with solar panels, seismographs to investigate the moon’s inner structure, high-def cameras, and arms to gather rock samples, which will be returned to Earth via rocket.
Japan believes a moon base is essential for exploration of the solar system, but its financial straits have pushed back lunar colonization to 2020.
Japan’s Kaguya lunar probe has sent back stunning high-def images of the moon in recent years, including a panorama of the Earth rising from lunar orbit. Such postcards will look so much cooler if they include a few little bots waving to us Earthlings.