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Countries like Israel, South Korea, or China most recently and companies like ispace have plans to send landers to the lunar surface. At least according to this list.

Is it because there is little information shared across international space agencies?

I understand when you are using your own launch vehicle (China/India), you want to make your rockets better, but in the case of South Korea, they will be using SpaceX to launch.

I guess my question could be better stated, is there all that much to gain from sending a lander to the moon in 2019?

is the lunar surface that interesting?

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    $\begingroup$ spudislunarresources.com/Bibliography/p/71.pdf $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Mar 22 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ Christopher Columbus went to the New World four times. Was there all that much to gain in subsequent expeditions? $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Mar 23 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ That's like asking why do geologists still bother looking at rocks that are exactly the same as the ones they looked at a century ago. We've been studying Earth for centuries and we're not done yet. Compared to that, we're really just getting started with the Moon. $\endgroup$ – TooTea Mar 23 at 20:43
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Is it because there is little information shared across international space agencies?

No. NASA has published pretty much all their data from their Moon missions, and continues to do so. Other nations have published their data too (you can find the Chandrayaan data on the same site). And researchers from all over the world can request access to the Apollo lunar samples.

There's still a lot to learn about the Moon. We have samples from only 9 sites (6 Apollo and 3 Luna missions), and only from the surface and some very shallow holes. And as happens in every scientific endeavour, the data we gather raises new questions.

There's also the prospect of commercial activity on the Moon, and of using the Moon as a proving ground for other missions (e.g. asteroid mining).

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Prestige is an important part of it, even if you contract with somebody else for the launch vehicle. You have to handle the landing, and that's challenging. Israel's rover was partially meant to show that a private entity, rather than a government, can land a probe on the moon, and I do think national pride was involved there too. And similar motivations apply to other rovers.

But there is a vast amount of science to be done on the moon. Assuming we some day settle it, even then there will be reason to investigate new locations on it just as geologists still study the earth.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's not clear to me why a private company would do this. According to BBC "Google Lunar XPrize... announced they will award the Beresheet collaboration $1m for their achievement", but this is not be enough to make it profitable. $\endgroup$ – Keith McClary Apr 12 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ The private entity in this case is a nonprofit, SpaceIL, and the money came mostly from philanthropic space enthusiasts, with some from the Israeli government. $\endgroup$ – Mark Foskey Apr 13 at 4:30
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Another angle on it is that we really know very little about the far side of the Moon. The Apollo and Luna samples are from the near side, and instruments used to analyze the Moon remotely can access only the near side.

The far side has very different features from the near side, including a huge basin where water-ice bearing crater bottoms may be hiding. It's not for nothing that China has landed a probe on the far side and NASA is talking about exploring the South pole-Aitken Basin.

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