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Satellite for NASA’s Moon Water Exploration Enters Final Assembly, Testing Phase

Lunar exploration

Satellite for NASA’s Moon Water Exploration Enters Final Assembly, Testing Phase

A small satellite Lockheed Martin Space is building for a NASA lunar exploration mission is now in its final assembly and testing phase following the integration of the Lunar Thermal Mapper.

As part of the Lunar Trailblazer satellite, the LTM will gather moon temperature data at different times to identify the lunar surface’s thermal properties and the composition of silicate rocks and soils. While collecting data, LTM will also scan the regions monitored by another satellite instrument, called High-resolution Volatiles and Minerals Moon Mapper, for researchers to determine how surface temperatures affect water on the moon.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory-built HVM3 imaging spectrometer is designed to detect and map the form, abundance and locations of water, NASA said.

LTM, built by the University of Oxford, is the UK Space Agency’s contribution to the Lunar Trailblazer development. The satellite will be launched as a payload on board the second Intuitive Machines robotic lunar lander mission expected for launch no earlier than 2024, before the Artemis program sends humans to the lunar surface. Data from the spacecraft would provide future lunar robots and astronauts with maps to guide their explorations, including investigations of how lunar water can be purified as drinking water or processed to be used as fuel or breathable oxygen.

Lockheed Martin Space is building the satellite under a contract with the California Institute of Technology. NASA selected Lunar Trailblazer for the moon water hunt through its Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration program in 2019.

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Category: Space

Tags: High-resolution Volatiles and Minerals Moon Mapper Lockheed Martin Space Lunar Thermal Mapper Lunar Trailblazer NASA space UK Space Agency University of Oxford