NASA scientists create detailed map of moon

NASA scientists create detailed map of moon”

Private spaceflight companies will carry commercial payloads to the Moon in advance of NASA's crewed landing slated for 2024. According to Astrobotic, the new contract means the rover will be ready to make its trip in either 2021 or 2022, underscoring the rapid rate at which NASA is aiming to return to the Moon's surface.

Gaining that knowledge is the goal of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

"Each demonstrates either a new science instrument or a technological innovation that supports scientific and human exploration objectives, and many have broader applications for Mars and beyond", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

Other experiments will test a small rover called MoonRanger that can drive itself beyond a lander's communication range and then return, widening the range of terrain that future rovers might be able to explore.

Heimdall is a camera system that will study the Moon's regolith (upper surface) as well look into potential landing sites for the mission. It will assess the quantity and availability of resources on the Moon, test the technology required for processing those resources, and field test the concepts of operations required for sustained human lunar presence.

And it could map out what is, perhaps, the moon's most valuable resource: water. Last but not least, the researchers will work on the effects radiation could have on space explorers, and the places radiation has more considerable influence.

The 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. It will utilise flight-spare hardware from NASA's Maven and Parker Solar Probe missions.

The Lunar Instrumentation for Subsurface Thermal Exploration with Rapidity (LISTER) is an instrument created to measure heat flow from the interior of the Moon.

A technology demonstration for transferring samples from the lunar surface to containers or other instruments.

LEXI will capture images of the interaction of solar wind with the Earth's magnetosphere.

The MoonRanger will weigh around 28lbs and be created to generate high-fidelity 3D maps of the lunar surface, particularly its pits and polar regions. They range from moon rovers to radiation-tolerant computing technology, from x-ray imagers to sample acquisition technology.

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