NASA plans to kick off 2024 by sending five payloads to the moon with Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander, Astrobotic Peregrine Mission One. The first launch under the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative will take off on Monday, January 8, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket.
A series of NASA payloads aboard Peregrine One will locate water molecules on the lunar surface, measure radiation and gases around the lander, and measure the lunar exosphere (a thin layer of gas on the moon’s surface). ) is intended to evaluate. These measurements improve our understanding of how solar radiation interacts with the lunar surface. This payload will also provide data to NASA’s Lunar-VISE (Lunar Vulkan Imaging and Spectroscopy Explorer) instrument suite, which is scheduled to land at Gruithuizendome in 2026.
“We are so excited to see this vision become a reality. CLPS is an innovative way to leverage American companies to send critical science and technology payloads to the Moon,” said NASA Headquarters in Washington. said Nicola Fox, Deputy Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate. “The Moon is a rich destination for scientific discovery. Studying and sampling the lunar environment will help NASA unravel some of the solar system’s greatest mysteries and will benefit everyone.” .”
The Hayabusa lander aims to touch down on February 23 at Viscositatis Cave, a lunar feature located outside of solidified lava. Gruithuizen Dome It’s on the far side of the moon. Scientists believe this landing site may contain evidence of water on the moon, as similar natural structures require large amounts of water to form on Earth.
The five NASA payloads aboard Astrobotic’s Peregrine One lander include:
- of LETS (Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer) The payload is a radiation monitor derived from heritage hardware flown on Orion Exploration Flight Test 1 in 2014. LETS will collect data about the lunar radiation environment and demonstrate the capabilities of the radiation monitor itself on the lunar surface. LETS units were also flown as his BioSentinel payloads on Artemis I and the International Space Station. LETS uses the same core technology as the Artemis mission’s primary radiation monitor, the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Evaluation System. Payload Principal Investigator: Dr. Edward Semones, NASA Johnson Space Center.
- NIRVSS (Near Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System) This will reveal the composition, surface temperature, and microstructure of the lunar soil at the landing site. NIRVSS is equipped with imagers, spectrometers, and thermal sensors to study the lunar soil and detect what types of minerals and volatile substances are present.Payload Principal Investigator: Dr. Anthony Colaprete, NASA Ames Research Center
- of NSS (Neutron Spectrometer System) is an instrument that can indirectly detect potential water present in the lunar soil at the landing site as a result of water in the exhaust gases deposited by the lander’s engines. After landing, the system will measure changes in the properties of the lunar soil throughout the lunar day.Payload Principal Investigator: Dr. Richard Elphick, NASA Ames
- PITMS (Hayabusion Trap Mass Spectrometer) will investigate the composition of compounds in the Moon’s thin atmosphere after descent and landing, and throughout the lunar day, to understand the release and transfer of volatile substances such as water, gases, and other compounds. PITMS is a partnership between NASA, the Open University of Milton Keynes, UK, and ESA (European Space Agency).Payload Principal Investigator: Dr. Barbara Cohen, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
- LRA (Laser Retroreflector Array) is a collection of eight retroreflectors that allow accurate measurements of the distance between orbiting or landing spacecraft and landers. The LRA is a passive optical instrument that will serve as a permanent position marker on the Moon for decades to come. Payload Principal Investigator: Dr. Xiaoli Sun, NASA Goddard
Astrobotic is one of 14 vendors eligible to deliver NASA payloads to the moon through the CLPS initiative, which began in 2018. The CLPS initiative aims to establish a commercial market for science, exploration, and technology development studies on the lunar surface and in lunar orbit. Through CLPS, NASA aims to gain new insights into the lunar environment and expand the lunar economy to support future human missions under the Artemis program.
Learn more about NASA’s CLPS initiative below.