A Full Moon is a sight to behold on or off planet. ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli didn’t miss the chance to photograph this one.
Taken from the International Space Station – its solar panels take up much of the frame – the Moon still manages to draw the eye.
After more than 40 years, the Moon is once again in the spotlight of space agencies worldwide, as a destination for both robotic missions and human explorers.
Why now? Relying on the success of the International Space Station partnership, the space community sees the Moon as a springboard to continue human exploration of the Solar System, with Mars as the next goal.
Moving away from one-shot orbital missions, bold ambitions foresee humans exploring the polar regions hand-in-hand with robots, in international cooperation and commercial participation.
This return to the Moon envisages a series of human missions starting in the early 2020s that would see astronauts interact with robots on the surface from orbit. Robots will land first, paving the way for human explorers.
Lunar rovers, telerobotics and hybrid surface power are some of the innovative approaches that are being developed to support these early missions.
In the meantime, we have stunning images of the Moon to keep us inspired.