NASA sends the first robot in the Artemis program to Moon

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NASA sends the first robot in the Artemis program to Moon

As part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander launched at 2:18 a.m. EDT from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida. It carries scientific instruments as part of the commercial lunar exploration program. It will take about 46 days for Peregrine to reach the lunar surface.

The first launch of CLPS

Once on the Moon, NASA instruments will study the lunar exosphere, thermal properties of lunar regolith, hydrogen content in the soil at the landing site, and monitor the radiation situation.

NASA’s five research vehicles aboard the lunar lander will help to better understand planetary processes and evolution, find evidence of water and other resources, and support long-term, sustainable human exploration of the Moon.

“The first CLPS launch has sent a payload on its way to the Moon. This is a giant leap forward for humanity as we prepare to return to the lunar surface for the first time in more than half a century,” said NASA Director Bill Nelson.

According to him, the missions will not only allow for new scientific research on the Moon, but will also support the growing commercial space economy by demonstrating the power of technology and innovation.

“Through CLPS missions, we can learn so much that will help us better understand the evolution of our solar system and shape the future of human exploration for the Artemis generation,” Nelson added.

Масив Малаперт на Місяці

Apparatus for research

The landing complex has a boarding facility on board:

  1. Laser reflector array. A set of approximately half-inch (1.25 cm) retroreflectors – mirrors used for distance measurement – mounted on the lander. This mirror reflects laser light from other orbiting and landing spacecraft to accurately determine the position of the lander.
  2. Neutron Spectrometer System. This system will search for indicators of water near the lunar surface by detecting the presence of hydrogen-bearing materials at the landing site as well as determining bulk properties of the regolith there.
  3. Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer. This radiation sensor will collect information about the lunar radiation environment and any solar events that might occur during the mission. The instrument relies on flight-proven hardware that flew in space on the Orion spacecraft’s inaugural uncrewed flight in 2014.
  4. Near InfraRed Volatiles Spectrometer System. This system will measure surface hydration and volatiles. It will also detect certain minerals using spectroscopy while mapping surface temperature and changes at the landing site.
  5. Peregrine Ion-Trap Mass Spectrometer. This instrument will study the thin layer of gases on the Moon’s surface, called the lunar exosphere, and any gases present after descent and landing and throughout the lunar day to understand the release and movement of volatiles. It was previously developed for ESA’s (European Space Agency) Rosetta mission.

Peregrine is scheduled to land on the Moon on Friday, February 23, and spend about 10 days collecting valuable scientific data by studying Earth’s closest neighbor. After that, manned expeditions will fly to the moon to explore it as part of the Artemis program.

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