Of the six launches known to be scheduled to close out August, there’s only one – Artemis I — that truly matters in any real sense. The others will be duly recorded but little remembered in what could be the busiest launch year in human history.
Orbiting the Moon, Lunar IceCube will use a spectrometer to investigate lunar ice. Earlier missions revealed water ice on the Moon, but Lunar IceCube will further NASA’s knowledge about lunar ice dynamics.
Scientists are interested in the absorption and release of water from the regolith — the Moon’s rocky and dusty surface. With Lunar IceCube investigating this process, NASA can map these changes as they occur on the Moon.
Lunar IceCube will also study the exosphere — the very thin atmosphere-like volume surrounding the Moon. By understanding the dynamics of water and other substances on the Moon, scientists will be able to predict seasonal changes for lunar ice that could impact its use as a resource in the future.
This will all be achieved from an efficient and cost-effective CubeSat that only weighs 31 pounds. Lunar IceCube is one of several CubeSats catching a ride to the Moon aboard Artemis I. These small satellites, along with future Artemis missions, will increase our knowledge for living and working on the Moon and eventually Mars.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Lunar IceCube CubeSat successfully passed essential environmental testing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The spacecraft, pictured above, will fly aboard the upcoming Artemis I mission to the Moon as a secondary payload to investigate the amount and distribution of water ice on the Moon.
By Katherine Schauer NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md. — As we venture forward to the Moon and establish a sustained lunar presence, finding and understanding water on the lunar surface becomes increasingly important. Lunar water is largely in the form of, but not necessarily limited to, water ice. Astronauts on the Moon could use this ice for various crew needs, potentially including rocket fuel.
The Lunar IceCube mission, led by Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, will study water distribution and interaction on the Moon. The mission will carry a NASA instrument called Broadband InfraRed Compact High-Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES) to investigate the distribution of water and other organic volatiles. NASA scientists will use this data to understand where the water is on the Moon, its origins and how we can use it.
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is focused on an ambitious plan to advance the nation’s space program by increasing science activities near and on the Moon and ultimately returning humans to the surface.
As part of the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, NASA is planning a new Moon-focused exploration campaign that starts with a series of progressive commercial robotic missions.
Statement of Jason Crusan Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space, and Technology U. S. House of Representatives
Lunar CATALYST: Promoting Private Sector Robotic Exploration of the Moon
As part of the Agency’s overall strategy to conduct deep space exploration, NASA is also supporting the development of commercial lunar exploration. In 2014, NASA introduced an initiative called Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST). The purpose of the initiative is to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Lunar IceCube has won a coveted slot as one of 12 diminutive secondary payloads to deploy during the first planned flight in 2018 of NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) and the second for its Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle — an event that scientists say will signal a paradigm shift in interplanetary science.