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Science And Nature

NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission will carry 2 water-seeking cubesats

artist's satellite depiction

An artist’s depiction of the Lunar IceCube satellite.(Image credit: Morehead State University)

When Artemis 1 launches, hopefully on Aug. 29,its primary mission is easy: test the newest Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the Orion spacecraft, and the bottom systems at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA hopes that mix of technology will dsicover humans go back to the moon in a couple of years.

But which means Artemis 1 will undoubtedly be headed for the moon, a chance never to be missed, so that it will undoubtedly be taking with it 10 secondary payloads. Two of these are cubesats made to search the moon for water: Lunar IceCube and Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map). As humans go back to the moon and travel beyond the discovery of water is essential for long-duration missions, since would-be explorers desire to harvest breathable air and rocket fuel from the ice.

Lunar IceCube has been produced by Morehead State University in Kentucky. The 31-pound (14 kilograms) cubesat will carry a NASA instrument called the Broadband Infrared Compact High-Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES), that may map water on the lunar surface in addition to in the exosphere, the thin layer of gas surrounding the moon such as a very weak imitation of Earth’s atmosphere.

Related: NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission explained in photos

“Lunar IceCube can help pave just how for human missions through considerably less expensive robotic missions and by addressing water dynamics on the moon,” Mark Lupisella, a NASA exploration research and development manager, said in a statement. “This is simply not only very important to science, nonetheless it may be very important to reducing the price of human missions on the long-term.”

The mission may also test a fresh ion propulsion thruster, which “operates electrically using smaller amounts of propellant to provide a little push and drive the spacecraft along its path, much like that of butterfly wings,” in accordance with NASA.

“Interplanetary exploration with CubeSats can be done by using innovative propulsion systems and creative trajectories,” Benjamin Malphrus, executive director of the area Science Center at Morehead State University, said in the statement. “The ion propulsion system can be an enabling technology that may open the entranceway to solar system exploration with small satellite platforms, ushering in a fresh era of space exploration.”

The Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map), however, will undoubtedly be studying previously identified potential regions of water ice at the moon’s south pole. The 30-pound (13.6 kg) cubesat has been produced by Arizona State University.

“We realize from previous missions there’s an elevated abundance of hydrogen at the lunar poles,” Craig Hardgrove, a planetary geologist at Arizona State University and the mission’s principal investigator, said in a statement. “But we have no idea just how much or wherever.”

Throughout a planned 60-day mission, LunaH-Map use two neutron spectrometers to map near-surface hydrogen deposits within the very best 3 feet (1 meter) of the moon, including deposits in permanently shadowed regions. The effect will undoubtedly be scientists’ most detailed map of water ice at the south pole up to now, in accordance with NASA.

All of the data gathered by Artemis 1’s secondary payloads will donate to future missions to the moon and beyond. NASA intends for Artemis 1 to start an ambitious lunar exploration program to create a sustainable presence on the moon.

“Anything we find out about the moon is valuable,” Cliff Brambora, BIRCHES lead engineer said. “The moon is really a sort of proving ground for technology and exploration, and the data we gain there can help us with the prospect of establishing a sustained presence on other planets, such as for example Mars.”

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Stefanie Waldek contributing writer Stefanie Waldek is really a self-taught space nerd and aviation geek who’s passionate about everything spaceflight and astronomy. With a background in travel and design journalism, in addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree from NY University, she focuses on the budding space tourism industry and Earth-based astrotourism. In her leisure time, you could find her watching rocket launches or finding out about at the stars, wondering what’s out there. Find out more about her just work at (opens in new tab).

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