Draper of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been awarded a NASA contract to send the Artemis science mission to the Moon in 2025. A commercial delivery is a component of NASA’s Artemis Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS) program, and Draper is responsible for end-to-end delivery services, which include payload integration, and transportation from Earth to the lunar surface and payload operations.
Draper will receive $73 million for the deal. The award marks the eighth surface delivery mission award issued to a CLPS provider.
This lunar surface delivery to a geographic region on the Moon that is not visible from Earth will allow science to be conducted in a place of interest but far from the first Artemis human landing mission,” said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Understanding geophysical activity on the far side of the Moon will give us greater insight into our solar system and provide information to help us prepare Artemis astronauts for their missions on the lunar surface.”
Schrödinger Basin, a large lunar impact crater on the far side of the Moon, not far from the Moon’s south pole, is the destination of the experiment that will be aboard Draper’s SERIES-2 lander. This fascinating geological site is approximately 200 miles (320 kilometers) in diameter. The inner ring of the basin is notable for its smooth surface deposits, which may be a mixture of impact melt and volcanic material, while the outer ring is composed of impact-melted meteorites.
“The payload delivery location is a first for us. Operations from the far side of the Moon will help improve the way we track activity from this site to achieve science goals – all while we collect data from the payload,” said Chris Culbert, CLPS program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.” The services provided by the vendor will prepare the site for more complex lunar surface operations in the future.”
Schrödinger Basin is one of the youngest impact basins on the lunar surface, and its impact caused the deep crust and upper mantle of the Moon to bulge in its peak rings. Later, massive volcanic eruptions occurred in the basin’s interior. The researchers hope to study the thermal and geophysical properties as well as the electrical and magnetic properties of the lunar interior at a landing site shielded from Earth’s electromagnetic fields.
Two of the three surveys selected for the flight are part of NASA’s Payload and Research Investigations on the Moon’s Surface (PRISM) Call for Proposals. draper will deliver the three surveys, which weigh a total of about 209 pounds (95 kilograms) and include the Far Side Seismic Suite (FSS), which is designed to return NASA’s first lunar seismic data from the far side of the Moon. The new data could help scientists better understand tectonic activity in this region of the Moon, reveal the frequency of small meteorite impacts on the far side of the Moon and provide new information about the Moon’s interior structure. The instrument consists of two of the most sensitive seismometers ever built for space flight, and FSS is one of two PRISM selections. It is funded through a partnership between NASA and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) – the French space agency – and is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
The Lunar Interior Temperature and Materials Suite (LITMS), also a PRISM option, consists of a suite of two instruments: the Lunar Thermal Exploration Rapidity Instrument, a subsurface heat flow probe and pneumatic drill; and the Lunar Telluric Current, an electric field instrument. This payload suite is designed to investigate the heat flow and subsurface conductivity structure in the lunar interior of Schrödinger’s Basin. The combination of these measurements is one way to address the thermal and compositional structure of the lunar surface.LITMS is funded by NASA and led by the Southwest Research Institute.
The Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment (LuSEE) will provide comprehensive measurements of electromagnetic phenomena on the lunar surface.LuSEE uses DC electric and magnetic field measurements to study the conditions that control the electrostatic potential on the lunar surface, which in turn acts as a control on dust transport.LuSEE also uses plasma wave measurements to characterize the lunar ionosphere and the solar wind and magnetospheric plasma in relation to the magnetic fields of the lunar surface and crust. interactions. In addition, the payload will perform sensitive radio frequency measurements to measure solar and planetary radio emissions. luSEE is funded by NASA in partnership with CNES and led by the University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory.
Multiple commercial deliveries continue to be part of NASA’s program on the Moon. Future payloads delivered with CLPS may include additional science experiments, including technology demonstrations in support of the agency’s Artemis mission. Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon, pave the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence and serve as a stepping stone for future astronaut missions to Mars. Artemis I is scheduled to launch no earlier than Aug. 29, 2022, with a subsequent manned test flight planned for 2024—no earlier than 2025 before NASA sends humans to the lunar surface.