Scientists from Japan will send a device to the moon to study the surface of the Earth’s satellite. The device will be tiny, weighing only 250 grams.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced that they are planning to send a transformable lunar robot to Earth’s satellite. The announcement notes that their goal is to learn more about the lunar surface in preparation for the deployment of a future crewed rover.

JAXA has previously announced plans to take part in establishing a permanent crew presence on the moon. As part of this mission, the agency has already developed a lunar apparatus and is working on a rover. The lunar station, called the Ispace lunar lander, was developed as a universal carrier for a variety of objects. Clients planning to use the lunar rover include the Canadian Space Agency and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (UAE). JAXA is also developing a rover that plans to send it to the moon in 2029. The Lender will be launched aboard a SpaceX rocket.

As part of the development of the rover, JAXA created a small lunar robot to check the condition of dust on the Moon. The design of the device assumes the use of transformable technology to save space in the lunar rover – during launch it will have the shape of a sphere with a diameter of 80 mm and weigh only 250 grams. Once installed on the moon, it will split into two halves with a connecting axis between them – the split halves will serve as wheels for the robot to move around.

The mission of the robot will be to study the regolith (moon dust) that covers the surface of the Moon in order to better inform decisions about the creation of a manned rover. Specifically, JAXA engineers want to know more about the effect of lunar gravity (which is only one-sixth of Earth’s) on regolith. The robot will transmit photographs and data to the lunar apparatus, which will send them to scientists on Earth. JAXA plans to send a tiny robot to the moon in 2022.