The ESA and Timelab Technologies, a UK company, are hard at work on the development of advanced virtual simulations of the Moon based on historic space missions. According to a recent press release offered by the researchers could interpret the data collected in the past in a new way, learning valuable information.
One of the first missions that will be digitized during the project is Apollo 15, one of the most iconic lunar landing s as it involved the need to arrive near a steep channel. Apollo 15 is the first crewed J-type mission to the moon that involved the use of specific scientific payloads, among which we can count remote sensors that could be placed on the surface and observed from Earth.
The decision to revisit these missions in a digital manner is based on the ability to re-analyze several measurements that were made by using a variety of scientific tools, including optical sensors and X-ray spectroscopes.
ESA explores the virtual Moon
The advanced simulation will allow researchers to track the position of the instruments when the measurements were made and observe new details that could be useful in the long run.
At the heart of the project is SPICE, a scientific software that is used by experts at the ESAC astronomy located in Spain. SPICE is an acronym for spacecraft planet instrument information, orientation information, and events. It is developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory but used by other space agencies for their own projects.
ESA uses the software to perform observation and structure future plans related to missions like the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, Venus Express, Rosset, and the joint BepiColombo spacecraft that will travel to Mercury.
A major boon is represented by the impressive accuracy of the simulation data of the Moon, combining several measurements that were made by advanced spacecraft. ESA’s future plans include the use of the new data to optimize upcoming space missions.