Particle physics experiments

NASA chooses Draper to deliver Artemis science experiments on the far side of the Moon

An illustration of Draper’s SERIES-2 lunar lander, which will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon for NASA in 2025. Credit: Draper

Draper of Cambridge, Massachusetts was awarded a contract to " data-gt-translate-attributes="[{" attribute="">Nasa to send Artemis science missions to the Moon in 2025. Commercial delivery is a component of NASA’s Artemis Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

Draper is responsible for end-to-end delivery services, including payload integration, transport from Earth to the surface of the Moon, and payload operations. Draper will receive $73 million for the deal. This award marks the eighth surface delivery task award given to a CLPS supplier.

“This delivery of the lunar surface to a geographic region of the Moon that is not visible from Earth will allow science to be conducted in a location of interest but far from the early human landing missions of Artemis.” said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Understanding the geophysical activity on the far side of the Moon will give us a deeper understanding of our solar system and provide information to help us prepare for the Artemis astronaut missions to the lunar surface.”

Schrödinger’s Basin, a large lunar impact crater on the far side of the Moon not far from the lunar south pole, is the destination of the experiments that will board Draper’s SERIES-2 lander. This fascinating geological location is approximately 200 miles (320 kilometers) in diameter. The inner ring of the basin is distinguished by its smooth bottom deposits, which may be a mixture of both impact melt and volcanic material, while the outer ring is composed of impact melt meteorites.

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The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image of Schrödinger’s Basin, a large crater near the south pole on the far side of the moon. Credit: NASA/LRO/Ernie Wright

“The payload delivery location is a first for us. Operations from the far side of the Moon will help improve how we track activities from there for scientific purposes, while collecting data from payloads,” said program manager Chris Culbert. CLPS at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The services provided by the vendor will prepare for future more complex operations on the lunar surface.”

Schrödinger’s Basin is one of the youngest impact basins on the lunar surface whose impact uplifted the deep crust and upper mantle of the Moon in its tip ring. Later, a large volcanic eruption took place in the inner basin. The researchers hope to study the thermal and geophysical properties of the lunar interior as well as the electrical and magnetic properties at a landing site shielded from Earth’s electromagnetic fields.

  • Two of the three surveys selected for this flight are part of NASA’s PRISM (Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon) call for proposals. Draper will deliver the three surveys which will collectively weigh approximately 209 pounds (95 kilograms) and will include the Farside Seismic Suite (FSS), which aims to return NASA’s first lunar seismic data from the far side of the Moon. This new data could help scientists better understand the tectonic activity of this region of the Moon, reveal how often the far side of the Moon is impacted by small meteorites, and provide new insights into the internal structure of the Moon. . The instrument consists of the two most sensitive seismometers ever built for spaceflight. FSS is one of two PRISM selections. It is funded by NASA in collaboration with the Center National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) – the French space agency – and is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
  • The Lunar Interior Materials and Temperature Suite (LITMS), also a PRISM selection, is a suite of two instruments: lunar instrumentation for thermal exploration with rapidity, a subterranean heat flux probe, and a pneumatic drill; and lunar telluric currents, an electric field instrument. This suite of payloads aims to study the heat flow and subsurface electrical conductivity structure of the lunar interior in the Schrödinger Basin. Combining these measurements is a way to solve the thermal and compositional structure of the Moon’s surface. LITMS is funded by NASA and led by the Southwest Research Institute.
  • The Lunar Surface Electromagnetics Experiment (LuSEE), which will perform comprehensive measurements of electromagnetic phenomena on the surface of the Moon. LuSEE uses DC electric and magnetic field measurements to study the conditions that control the electrostatic potential of the lunar surface, which, in turn, plays a key role in dust transport. LuSEE also uses plasma wave measurements to characterize the lunar ionosphere and the interaction of solar wind and magnetospheric plasma with the lunar surface and crustal magnetic fields. Additionally, this payload will perform sensitive radio frequency measurements to measure solar and planetary radio emissions. LuSEE is funded by NASA in collaboration with CNES, and is led by University of California, BerkeleySpace science laboratory.

Multiple commercial deliveries continue to be part of NASA’s plans for the Moon. Future payloads delivered with CLPS could include more science experiments, including technology demonstrations supporting the agency’s Artemis missions. Thanks to Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence and serving as a springboard for future astronaut missions to " data-gt-translate-attributes="[{" attribute="">March. Artemis I is scheduled to launch no earlier than August 29, 2022, with a subsequent crewed test flight scheduled for 2024 before NASA sends humans to the surface of the Moon no earlier than 2025.