Space

A new satellite approved by NASA to map the surface of the moon

Summary

In an attempt to investigate and understand the lunar water cycle on the lunar surface and how its location, abundance, and form relate to geology, NASA has endorsed a constellation mission. This small-satellite mission known as the Lunar Trailblazer obtained […]

In an attempt to investigate and understand the lunar water cycle on the lunar surface and how its location, abundance, and form relate to geology, NASA has endorsed a constellation mission. This small-satellite mission known as the Lunar Trailblazer obtained agency approval level to start its final hardware designing and construction. Lunar Trailblazer will back NASA’s Artemis program, which comprises the preparations of crewed missions to Mars and the establishment of a lasting presence on the moon. 

Lunar Trailblazer will be able to sense the ice’s impressions in reflected light and be able to spot micro-cold traps’ locations. Scientists will collect measurements as many times as they can in sunlit areas in a day. This will help them understand if the water impression on the illuminated surface alters as the lunar surface temperatures vary on a lunar day. This mission will also give a confirmation whether water on the moon’s body is in crystals, as NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) suggested recently. 

The Caltech mission’s principal investigator, Bethany Ehlmann, said that they are happy since the small satellite will help them have answers to big questions concerning planetary science. Lunar Trailblazer will offer crucial base maps that will help to direct upcoming exploration such as robotic and human missions. It will also show the significance of water on the moon. 

Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, Lori Glaze, said that Lunar Trailblazer would give more knowledge of water cycles on airless forms such as the moon. He added that by collecting measurements on both low light and bright levels, Lunar Trailblazer would be able to produce detailed surface water ice maps, even in dark areas of the moon. 

Lunar Trailblazer Project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Calina Seybold, said that the Lunar Trailblazer has a team of professionals who are talented and result-oriented. Seybold added that the team would ensure the mission has a confirmation review and successful formulation. Seybold said that they believe the team has all it takes to proceed to the final development and fabrication phase. 

Lunar Trailblazer was selected in 2019, and it is the second mission to get confirmation. In October 2022, the mission is expected to provide its flight system, followed by its launch in February 2025. In September 2020 is when the Janus mission got its confirmation. Missions such as the Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE) are under formulation, and its KDP-C will take place in 2021. 

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