The ASU-led crew that constructed NASA’s Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper, or “LunaH-Map” for brief, has safely delivered their spacecraft to NASA’s Kennedy House Middle in Florida in preparation for a launch anticipated later this yr on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Artemis I rocket.
LunaH-Map is a totally useful interplanetary spacecraft concerning the measurement of a big cereal field and weighing about 30 kilos. It’s the first mission to be led, designed, assembled, built-in, examined and delivered from the ASU Tempe campus. Its vacation spot is in orbit across the moon, from which it can map water-ice in completely shadowed areas of the lunar south pole.
To begin its journey from ASU to NASA’s Kennedy House Middle, first the spacecraft was positioned in a doubly sealed, nitrogen-filled, electrostatic-safe bag. It was then fastidiously positioned right into a crushproof and dustproof foam-lined case.
4 tickets from Phoenix to Orlando had been bought on a business airline, three for the human members of the LunaH-Map crew and one for the spacecraft, which was positioned within the center seat between two crew members.
As soon as the LunaH-Map crew arrived at Kennedy House Middle, they unpacked the spacecraft, checked to ensure it had not been jostled or collected any mud or particles throughout transport, and took photographs for documentation. After putting in a set of handles and thoroughly eradicating the “Take away Earlier than Flight” cowl plates, they slid the spacecraft into the flight dispenser that may launch with the SLS rocket. Then, the door to the flight dispenser was fastidiously closed and latched.
“From there, we handed the operation over to NASA,” stated LunaH-Map Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor Craig Hardgrove of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration who, together with AZ Space Technologies Mechanical Lead Nathaniel Struebel and Qwaltec Operations Lead Patrick Hailey, transported the spacecraft to its vacation spot in Florida.
When Artemis I launches later this yr, together with LunaH-Map, there will probably be round a dozen small spacecraft, referred to as CubeSats, onboard. These would be the secondary payloads on the Artemis I mission.
The first mission of Artemis I is testing NASA’s House Launch System, which is designed to carry greater than any current launch car. The rocket will even transport the Orion spacecraft, which can carry out a lunar flyby and return to Earth and which, on future missions, will carry human crews to house. The ring that connects Orion to SLS has room for the CubeSat payloads, which will probably be despatched into deep house in the course of the mission.
As soon as Artemis I is launched and LunaH-Map is deployed, the spacecraft will use a sequence of lunar fly-bys and its ion propulsion system to enter the lunar orbit. As soon as it reaches low altitude, it can start its scientific mission to measure the abundance of hydrogen inside completely shadowed areas of the lunar south pole, utilizing a brand new kind of compact neutron spectrometer.
Whereas we all know from many years of lunar exploration that there are water ice enrichments in sure areas across the poles of our moon, LunaH-Map will search to find out how a lot and the place these enrichments are. They might include sufficient water to vary our view of the formation and evolution of moon, or they could include sufficient water to assist future human and robotic exploration of the photo voltaic system.
The whole mission will final a couple of yr and the spacecraft will carry out almost 300 orbits of the moon. Throughout this time, LunaH-Map will probably be operated from the mission operations heart in Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 on the ASU Tempe campus the place the spacecraft was constructed. The crew will talk immediately with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Deep House Community to ship instructions that will probably be transmitted to the spacecraft.
“Supply of the spacecraft to NASA and the Artemis program represents an infinite achievement that’s the end result of years of devoted work by the ASU LunaH-Map crew and our many vendor and contractor companions nationwide,” stated LunaH-Map Deputy Principal Investigator Jim Bell, who’s a planetary scientist and professor at ASU’s Faculty of Earth and House Exploration. “It’s a milestone achievement for ASU general and can assist pave the way in which for a lot of equally thrilling future CubeSat missions for ASU college students, college and workers.”