When Project Apollo ended in 1972, the era of Moon missions appeared to have ended. The hiatus ended with the Clementine mission in 1994, followed by the Lunar Prospector mission in 1997. Several new missions are now planned.These missions will obtain data that are much needed. They will deploy seismometers to determine the size of the lunar core, analyze the surface composition for elements not determined precisely, study volatile substances and the geology of the polar regions, and return samples from the largest lunar basin.The missions are being planned by the Japanese space agency and the European Space Agency. The U.S. National Research Council has recommended that a sample-return mission to the South Pole-Aitken basin be given a high priority in NASA's mission planning.
The NASA Exploration Team (NExT) is developing exciting plans for a human return to the Moon. A centerpiece of the planning is the use of the Earth-Moon Lagrangian point, L1. From this gravitational-ly balanced place in space astronauts will have easy access to anywhere in the Earth-Moon system, opening up endless possibilities.
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