JAPAN is looking at sending a wheeled robot to the moon in five years and building a lunar base by 2020.
The robots would set up solar panels to generate energy and have an observation device to gather geological samples. The materials would then be sent back to Earth by rocket.
The robots would work from the lunar base at the moon’s south pole from 2020.
The plans are part of a year-long study backed by a panel of experts yesterday that will be recommended to Japan’s Government.
But it has been estimated the unmanned mission would cost $2.57 billion over the next 10 years, which could be a problem given government efforts to cut expenditure.
"It is extremely important to probe the moon … as we now see the dawn of the age of great exploration in the solar system," the report said.