Sora-q is a small Japanese drone that could reach the Moon as soon as 2022. But behind its strange shape hides… a toy company.
The Moon is at the heart of many desires, and scientific missions to our natural satellite have never been so numerous. Indeed, while NASA is working on the Artemis program, which plans to send men and women there, the CNSA, the Chinese space agency is at the heart of a program at least as ambitious.
Between the two monsters of this modern era, Japan is trying to find a place for itself and in turn lead a mission to the Moon. This semi-private trip will be led by both the Japanese company iSpace and the country’s space agency, JAXA. This mission’s main objective is to drop off a small spherical drone, named Sora-Q.
The latter should be able to collect data concerning the regolith present on the surface of the Moon. Its design does not come from nowhere because the JAXA had already worked in the last months with firms like Sony or the university of Doshisha to realize this small robot. More surprisingly, however, the children’s toy company Tomy also worked on the design of this “real BB-8” as the Huffington Post dubbed it, thus referring to the new droid of Star Wars.
Sora-Q: the robot of the future
With a tiny size, just a few centimeters, Sora-Q is one of the lightest objects to ever land on the Moon. Displaying 250 grams on the scale, the drone is not there to make up the numbers. According to JAXA, this is a lunar regolith exploration mission which aims to better understand the composition and functioning of this powder which scatters the ground of our satellite.
The objective announced by the Japanese space agency is to help JAXA understand how to move a robot on the Moon, while having a view of what is happening on the surface of the satellite, thanks to the camera integrated into the heart. by Sora-Q. Made of basic materials, metal and plastic, Sora-Q should withstand temperatures ranging between 120°C and -170°C.