Japan guns for the moon with proposed 2019 lunar landing

russia space taxi ryvok moon
Japan is aiming to become the fourth country in the world to land an unmanned vehicle on the moon, reports the WSJ. The newly added project was announced this week when the government’s space policy committee published an updated schedule for the nation’s space exploration program.

According to the committee’s report, Japan will begin developing a lunar lander starting next year. If all goes smoothly, the country will attempt its first lunar landing mission in 2019 and enter the history books as the 4th country to land a spacecraft on the moon. Landing on the moon is an important accomplishment for Japan and its people, but the lunar visit is only one goal of the project.

The spacecraft will be designed with novel precision landing technology that will allow the lander to touch down within 100 meters of its intended target. This is a marked improvement over existing landing methods that miss by a much wider mark. Japan’s technology borrows heavily from facial recognition systems that are used to identify individual faces in photos and video. The system has been adapted to scan the moon’s surface and adjust the spacecraft’s flight controls to improve the precision of the landing.

RELATED: Moonspike, the world’s first crowdfunded lunar rocket, wants to send your data to the moon

Japan hopes this innovation will elevate the country’s reputation for space exploration and allow it to work jointly with other countries in future space missions. Before it can impress the world with its space program, however, the government must first seek public opinion on the mission and finalize its proposed plans within the coming year.

If the space program proceeds according to plan, Japan will join the United States, Russia, and China in successfully landing spacecraft on the moon’s surface. China was the third and most recent country to join these ranks, having landed the Chang’e 3 spacecraft in 2013. It was the first soft landing on the moon since 1976, when Russia landed the Luna-24 and successfully returned the craft with 0.17 kg of Moon soil.

Emerging Tech

Touchdown! Japan successfully lands its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on asteroid Ryugu

Japan's space agency has just completed the latest stage of its extraordinarily complex mission, successfully landing its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on an asteroid millions of miles from Earth.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX just nailed its most challenging Falcon 9 rocket landing to date

If you've been following the SpaceX launch calendar, you know this week marks the first launch from Cape Canaveral in two months. We have the details on where you can watch the launch live.
Emerging Tech

Israel will launch world’s first privately funded moon mission tomorrow

This week will see the world's first privately funded lunar mission launch. Israel's first mission to the moon will be launched aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday, February 21.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

No faking! Doctors can now objectively measure how much pain you’re in

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered the blood biomarkers that can objectively reveal just how much pain a patient is in. Here's why that's so important.
Emerging Tech

SeaBubbles’ new electric hydrofoil boat is the aquatic equivalent of a Tesla

What do you get if you combine a Tesla, a flying car, and a sleek boat? Probably something a bit like SeaBubbles, the French "flying" boat startup which offers a fresh spin on the hydrofoil.
Emerging Tech

We tried a $500 electronic dab rig, and now we can’t go back to normal vaporizers

Induction heating is the future of cannabis vaporizers. Loto Labs wowed us with what likely is the best concentrate vaporizer on the market today. With a $500 price tag, it's expensive, but it should definitely be your next dab rig.
Emerging Tech

FDA warns about the dangers of anti-aging blood transfusions

It turns out injecting old people with blood from healthy youngsters may not be the answer to health rejuvenation. That’s according to the FDA, which says such claims are dangerous junk science.
Emerging Tech

Bees can do arithmetic, setting the scientific community abuzz

A new study has found something remarkable: Bees can do basic arithmetic. Researchers showed that bees could use colors as representations for numbers and then use those colors for addition and subtraction.
Emerging Tech

DeepSqueak is a machine learning A.I. that reveals what rats are chatting about

Want to know what rats are squeaking about? You'd better check out DeepSqueak, the new deep learning artificial intelligence developed by researchers at the University of Washington.
Health & Fitness

Immune cell discovery takes us one step closer to a universal flu vaccine

A group of international researchers have made a discovery which could take us one step closer to the universal, one-shot flu vaccine that people around the world have been dreaming of.
Photography

NASA celebrates Earth’s incredible natural beauty with free photo book

NASA has published a fabulous new book featuring stunning imagery captured by its satellites over the years. A hardback version is available for $53, though it can also be downloaded to ebook readers for free, and enjoyed online.
Deals

This new all-in-one flashlight is a power bank, lighter, and screwdriver

The Pyyros modular flashlight can perform numerous field tasks, from hammering to starting fires. If you back it on Kickstarter now, you can score some savings on this innovative flashlight and multi-tool, but act fast: This early-bird…
Movies & TV

Hilarious new Kickstarter aims to fix Scorcese’s last scene in The Departed

A fan of The Departed and apparent hater of rat-as-symbolism imagery has launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitally erase the rodent from the end of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie.