By Leah Crane The SpaceBit rover will explore the moon’s surface with its legs, and will send its data back to the much larger Astrobotic Peregrine lander, which will transmit it back to Earth.David Stock The UK is sending its first rover to the moon, and it is going to be tiny. SpaceBit, a UK-based space start-up, will announce at New Scientist Live today a contract with the US space robotics company Astrobotic to send a rover aboard the Astrobotic lander that is headed to the moon in 2021. NASA announced in May that Astrobotic and two other companies had been awarded funding to build lunar landers. Astrobotic was awarded $79.5 million to carry up to 14 NASA instruments to the moon as well as 14 payloads from other partners, including private companies and eight other nations. SpaceBit will be one of those partners, sending its small lunar rover to the surface inside Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander. The rover is the smallest lunar rover ever, according to SpaceBit. Once the lander reaches the moon’s surface, the rover will drop from beneath it to the surface along with other payloads. Advertisement The Astrobotic Peregrine lander will carry the UK’s first rover to the moonNASA Photo / Alamy Stock Photo “It’s going to be quite a spectacle when we land because we’re going to have multiple small rovers dropping and rolling or crawling or walking off and taking all kinds of pictures and data,” says Astrobotic CEO John Thornton. The rovers will send their data back to the lander, which will transmit it back to Earth. The past, present and future of the moon: Maggie Aderin-Pocock at New Scientist Live The SpaceBit rover will be unlike the others: instead of wheels, it will walk around the moon’s surface on legs. SpaceBit hopes that the legs will help future generations of rovers explore tubular caves on the moon created by ancient lava flows, which hasn’t been done before. “The legs could be better for steep, rocky terrain and basically any place where wheels start to struggle,” says Thornton. Another shot of the Space Bit rover which fits inside a 1U CubeSat, which measures 10x10x10cm.Space Bit SpaceBit founder and CEO Pavlo Tanasyuk will announce the details of the mission today. New Scientist Live runs from 10 to 13 October at ExCel London, and SpaceBit is displaying a life-sized model of the rover at the show. There’s still time to join us at New Scientist Live this weekend – buy your tickets now! More on these topics: the moon spacecraft
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