Boffins from the Open University in Milton Keynes are playing a key role in the first-ever publicly-funded trip to the moon .
Lunar Mission One is a project to send unmanned vessel to the moon within the next 10 years.
Scientists hope to learn new insights into the origins of both the Moon and the Earth, by drilling up to 100 metres below the Moon’s surface.
Initial development funding is coming from the public through the Kickstarter ‘crowd-funding’ platform, which means anyone can help pay for it by donating just £3.
Anyone who pledges cash via Kickstarter will become a lifetime member of the ‘Lunar Missions Club’, with benefits such as digital ‘memory box’ for inclusion in a 21st Century time capsule that will be sent to and buried in the Moon. Backers will also get the chance to have their name inscribed on the lunar landing module.
Monica Grady, the head of the OU’s department for physical sciences, said: “Lunar Mission One is a remarkable opportunity for millions of people worldwide to take part in space exploration.
“We are absolutely delighted to be part of this innovative project and to support its ambitious scientific and educational goals.”
The OU is part of the project’s global education programme .
The study is also designed to look at the practicality of a permanent manned base at the lunar south pole.
Organisers hope to raise £600,000 through Kickstarter, with 4,080 backers already donating more than £350,000.
Following the development phase, funded by Kickstarter, the remaining funding will primarily be met through selling digital memory boxes to the public, as well as through public sector and commercial backing.
Last month researchers from the OU at Milton Keynes achieved another first, after they played a key role in developing the first-ever space probe to land on a comet.
The scientists helped to create various instruments on board Philae, which landed on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.
They also contributed to the MUPUS (Multi-Purpose Sensors for Surface and Subsurface Science) instrument, which will be used to monitor the temperature of the comet.
To join the lunar landing Kickstarter project visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/lunarmissionone/lunar-mission-one-a-new-lunar-mission-for-everyone