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Russia’s Luna-27b probe may explore Moon’s North Pole or its far side — program chief

Lev Zeleny added that the possibility of sending another vehicle to the far side of the Moon was also being considered

MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. The automated Luna-27b interplanetary probe may be launched on a space flight either to the North Pole of the Moon or to its far side, Lev Zeleny, head of the lunar program’s first stage, told TASS.

"We have suggested sending one probe to the South Pole. If it works well, another one may be sent to some place. For instance, to the North Pole," said Zeleny, the research director of the Space Research Institute (SRI) under the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).

The Moon’s North Pole has remained somewhat neglected by the international scientific community, he pointed out.

"All this armada of spacecraft, both the Chinese and the US’ Artemis program, is targeting the South Pole," Zeleny clarified.

This research gap stems from the fact that data from Russia’s LEND instrument, which has been installed on the US Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), has indicated that a greater amount of water ice is to be found at the South Pole, Zeleny elaborated.

Zeleny noted that, at this point, humanity should be interested not in the total amount of ice at the poles, but in the fundamental possibility of studying it and verifying its composition.

"Of course, in this case, there is no significant difference between the North and South poles, but the comparison of measurements at the North and South poles will yield a lot," he explained.

Zeleny added that the possibility of sending another vehicle to the far side of the Moon was also being considered.

"There are other ideas. Another probe can be landed, for example, on the back side of the Moon in a circumpolar region. There are big craters there too, and the comparison of polar and subpolar regions would be of great interest, too," he concluded.

Proposed Luna-27 mission

The Luna-27 mission is to test techniques for conducting safe, high-precision landings on the Earth's natural satellite, as well as to conduct research of the Moon in the area of the South Pole.

On Tuesday, Yuri Borisov, CEO of Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, said that his organization was considering a RAS proposal for creating two Luna-27 vehicles to enhance reliability and ensure that the goals of the research mission are achieved.