NASA Press Release | 2019 Jul 01
NASA has selected 12 new science and technology payloads that will help us study the Moon and explore more of its surface as part of the agency’s Artemis lunar program. These investigations and demonstrations will help the agency send astronauts to the Moon by 2024 as a way to prepare to send humans to Mars for the first time.
The selected investigations will go to the Moon on future flights through NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project. The CLPS project allows rapid acquisition of lunar delivery services for payloads like these that advance capabilities for science, exploration, or commercial development of the Moon. Many of the new selections incorporate existing hardware, such as parts or models designed for missions that have already flown. Seven of the new selections are focused on answering questions in planetary science or heliophysics, while five will demonstrate new technologies. ...
The 12 selected investigations are:
- MoonRanger is a small, fast-moving rover that has the capability to drive beyond communications range with a lander and then return to it. This will enable investigations within a 0.6-mile (1 kilometer) range from the lander. MoonRanger will aim to continually map the terrain it traverses, and transmit data for future system improvement.
- Heimdall is a flexible camera system for conducting lunar science on commercial vehicles. This innovation includes a single digital video recorder and four cameras: a wide-angle descent imager, a narrow-angle regolith imager, and two wide-angle panoramic imagers. This camera system is intended to model the properties of the Moon's regolith – the soil and other material that makes up the top later of the lunar surface – and characterize and map geologic features, as well characterize potential landing or trafficability hazards, among other goals.
- Lunar Demonstration of a Reconfigurable, Radiation Tolerant Computer System aims to demonstrate a radiation-tolerant computing technology. Due to the Moon's lack of atmosphere and magnetic field, radiation from the Sun will be a challenge for electronics. This investigation also will characterize the radiation effects on the lunar surface.
- Regolith Adherence Characterization (RAC) Payload will determine how lunar regolith sticks to a range of materials exposed to the Moon's environment at different phases of flight. Components of this experiment are derived from a commercial payload facility called MISSE currently on the International Space Station.
- The Lunar Magnetotelluric Sounder is designed to characterize the structure and composition of the Moon’s mantle by studying electric and magnetic fields. The investigation will make use of a flight-spare magnetometer, a device that measures magnetic fields, originally made for the MAVEN spacecraft, which is currently orbiting Mars.
- The Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment (LuSEE) will integrate flight-spare and repurposed hardware from the NASA Parker Solar Probe FIELDS experiment, the STEREO/Waves instrument, and the MAVEN mission to make comprehensive measurements of electromagnetic phenomena on the surface of the Moon.
- The Lunar Environment heliospheric X-ray Imager (LEXI) will capture images of the interaction of Earth's magnetosphere with the flow of charged particles from the Sun, called the solar wind.
- Next Generation Lunar Retroreflectors (NGLR) will serve as a target for lasers on Earth to precisely measure the Earth-Moon distance. They are designed to provide data that could be used to constrain various aspects of the lunar interior and address questions of fundamental physics.
- The Lunar Compact InfraRed Imaging System (L-CIRiS) is targeted to deploy a radiometer, a device that measures infrared wavelengths of light, to explore the Moon's surface composition, map its surface temperature distribution, and demonstrate the instrument's feasibility for future lunar resource utilization activities.
- The Lunar Instrumentation for Subsurface Thermal Exploration with Rapidity (LISTER) is an instrument designed to measure heat flow from the interior of the Moon. The probe will attempt to drill 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) into the lunar regolith to investigate the Moon's thermal properties at different depths.
- PlanetVac is a technology for acquiring and transferring lunar regolith from the surface to other instruments that would analyze the material, or put it in a container that another spacecraft could return to Earth.
- Sample Acquisition, Morphology Filtering, and Probing of Lunar Regolith (SAMPLR) is another sample acquisition technology that will make use of a robotic arm that is a flight spare from the Mars Exploration Rover mission, which included the long-lived rovers Spirit and Opportunity.