What's the nature of Moon rotation – another research funded by RFBR is presented by Senior Research Consultant Natalya Petrova.
“Our project is dedicated to the rotation of the Moon, or the so called physical libration, - says Ms. Petrova. – We all know that the Moon faces the Earth with its one side. This came to be through a process we call tidal evolution. But because of different external influences on the Moon’s non-spherical body its ‘nose’ slightly fluctuates, or librates, relative to its equilibrium state. It’s important to know the specifics of such libration”.
This research can help find out more about the Moon's internal structure. Due to the Moon’s close proximity it can be explored through many different means. Optical telescopes, geophysical equipment, robotic or human-inhabited lunar bases – these are some of the objects planned to be established on our satellite soon. The lunar coordinate must be accurately studied in order to make that, and that’s where libration research is helpful.
Natalya Petrova explains, “Roscosmos has plans to launch satellites for interplanetary service to the lunar orbit. Such spaceships will require significantly less fuel to start due to the Moon’s gravity being only one sixth of the Earth’s. Another task is to extract helium-3 from regolith. There are possibly thousands of tons of helium-3 on the Moon. Helium-3 can be used in thermonuclear reactors without long-living radioactive waste. 30 tons of helium-3 are estimated to be enough to cover all the Earth’s energy consumption for one year. The transport cost to Earth will be dozens of times cheaper than the current atomic energy supply costs”.
The group headed by Natalya Petrova mostly consists of young researchers from the Institute of Physics. They collaborate with the Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Mizusawa Observatory. The Japanese side plans to install an optical telescope on the Moon, and Kazan University provides them with the results of libration research.
This research is unique for Russia because there are basically no other groups in the country who are actively engaged in Moon rotation studies. As Ms. Petrova explains, the team uses the analytical theory of Moon rotation – the one that was proposed by Professor of KFU Sh. Khabibullin. Nearly forty publications have been produced by the group, 10 of them in WoS/Scopus journals. Among them are Advances in Space Research, Planetary and Space Sciences, Astronomicheskii Vestnik, and others.