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NASA’s moon-observing CubeSat is ready for Artemis launch

NASA's moon-observing CubeSat ready to launch Artemis

Illustration from NASA’s Lunar IceCube mission exploring lunar ice. Credit: Morehead State University

NASA’s water exploration CubeSat is now ready to hitch a ride to lunar orbit. The Lunar IceCube data is not much bigger than a shoebox and will have an inordinate impact on lunar science.

The satellite is integrated into the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and is ready to travel to the moon as part of the unmanned Artemis I mission, which will be launched this year.

Lunar IceCube orbits the moon and will use a spectrometer to examine lunar ice. Previous missions have revealed water ice on the moon, but Lunar IceCube will increase NASA’s knowledge of the dynamics of lunar ice.

NASA’s Lunar IceCube mission will travel to the moon as a secondary payload on the Artemis I mission. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Scientists are interested in the uptake and release of water from the regolith – the rocky and dusty surface of the moon. Now that Lunar IceCube is 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 around the moon. By understanding the dynamics of water and other substances on the moon, scientists can predict seasonal changes for lunar ice that could affect its use as a resource in the future.

All of this is accomplished with an efficient and cost-effective CubeSat that weighs just 31 pounds. Lunar IceCube is one of several CubeSats taking a ride to the moon aboard Artemis I. These small satellites, along with future Artemis missions, will advance our knowledge of life and work on the Moon and eventually Mars.

Lunar IceCube Passes Critical Tests at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Quote: NASA’s moon-observing CubeSat is ready for launch Artemis (2022, August 8), retrieved August 8, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-nasa-moon-observing-cubesat-ready-artemis.html

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