The ILO-1 astrophysical observatory and research station will be the world’s first instrument to image the Milky Way Galaxy and to conduct international astrophysical observations and communications from the lunar surface.
The ILO-1 will be landed on a ‘peak of eternal light’ at the lunar South Pole by a Moon Express robotic explorer system. The primary landing site under analysis is Malapert Mountain, a 5 km tall peak in the Aitken Basin region that is bathed in sunshine most of the time and has 24/7 direct line of sight to Earth as well as to Shackleton Crater for communications. Moon Express will use this mission to explore the Moon’s South Pole for mineral resources and water.
The advanced landing technologies under development for the mission include precision landing and hazard avoidance that will allow a Moon Express robotic landing system to deliver the ILO-1 to the challenging terrain of the Moon’s South Pole.
According to ILOA founder and director, Steve Durst, the primary goal of the International Lunar Observatory is to expand human understanding of the Galaxy and Cosmos through observation and communications from our Moon and the aim is to establish a presence on the Moon in 2019, the 50th anniversary year of Apollo 11.