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The lunar surface  (Source: JAXA)
The U.S. and Britain will work together on a moon mission

NASA and the British government plan to work together to launch a British probe to the moon by 2012, the BBC learned. NASA described the Moonlite mission as "inspirational" and it should "fill just the right gap in the U.S. agency's exploration program."

British scientists have also shown interest in creating several scientific observation points on the moon.  The main objective involves launching a satellite that will enter the moon's orbit and then fire four "penetrators" into the lunar surface at 1,080 KPH.  The darts will then activate equipment to monitor "moonquakes" to help scientists learn more about the physical and chemical components of the moon.

"At the moment, it is extremely likely that it will happen," said Alan Smith, project lead researcher at the Mullard Space Sciences Laboratory.  "We've got to get our ducks in order, but I think the plan ticks all the right boxes and it's extremely likely that we will have the first British mission to the moon launched in 2012.

Assuming both sides agree to the terms of tentative deal, NASA will officially hop onboard next summer.   The ambitious India Space Research Organization (ISRO) also may join the U.K.-led space initiative.

The U.S. space agency continues to work alongside international partners, while China remains the only space nation not chosen to work alongside NASA.  More space-ready nations either have launched or plan to launch missions to study the moon and its unique surface -- probes launched by Japan and China already provided images and video of the lunar surface.





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