Session

Technical Session 2: Next on the Pad

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

The Volatile and Mineralogy Mapping Orbiter (VMMO) is a low-cost 12U CubeSat concept that was originally selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as one of the two winners of the 2018 SysNova Challenge. The VMMO spacecraft will carry out a volatiles and mineralogical survey of the lunar South Pole permanently shadowed regions using the Lunar Volatile and Mineralogy Mapper (LVMM) multi-wave chemical Lidar payload to detect and map volatiles and other resources such as ilmenite (FeTiO3) down to a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) of approximately 100m. The exploitation of valuable lunar resources, such as water ice and other volatiles, will be crucial to the sustainability of future manned lunar bases. Although water ice has already been detected and mapped around the poles of the Moon by previous lunar missions, there is still considerable uncertainty with regards to the precise distribution of volatile content within the lunar regolith. There are a number of planned future missions to further locate and map water ice deposits around the lunar poles, but the spatial resolution of these observations is still expected to be on the order of kilometres.

This paper will describe the VMMO mission and CubeSat spacecraft design work that was carried out in the recent Phase A study for ESA. It also aims to address some of the key objectives and challenges involved in designing a low-cost, semi-autonomous CubeSat for beyond-Earth orbit.

Available for download on Saturday, August 07, 2021

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Aug 9th, 11:30 AM

Lunar Volatile and Mineralogy Mapping Orbiter (VMMO): Viable Science from Lunar CubeSats

Utah State University, Logan, UT

The Volatile and Mineralogy Mapping Orbiter (VMMO) is a low-cost 12U CubeSat concept that was originally selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as one of the two winners of the 2018 SysNova Challenge. The VMMO spacecraft will carry out a volatiles and mineralogical survey of the lunar South Pole permanently shadowed regions using the Lunar Volatile and Mineralogy Mapper (LVMM) multi-wave chemical Lidar payload to detect and map volatiles and other resources such as ilmenite (FeTiO3) down to a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) of approximately 100m. The exploitation of valuable lunar resources, such as water ice and other volatiles, will be crucial to the sustainability of future manned lunar bases. Although water ice has already been detected and mapped around the poles of the Moon by previous lunar missions, there is still considerable uncertainty with regards to the precise distribution of volatile content within the lunar regolith. There are a number of planned future missions to further locate and map water ice deposits around the lunar poles, but the spatial resolution of these observations is still expected to be on the order of kilometres.

This paper will describe the VMMO mission and CubeSat spacecraft design work that was carried out in the recent Phase A study for ESA. It also aims to address some of the key objectives and challenges involved in designing a low-cost, semi-autonomous CubeSat for beyond-Earth orbit.