NASA's moonlight will illuminate the dark craters of the Earth's satellite: where the sun does not shine

NASA's moonlight will illuminate the dark craters of the Earth's satellite

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announces a new mission to study the lunar surface. To do this, create a unique spacecraft the size of a briefcase, which is called the “Moonlight”. It is equipped with many powerful lasers, the task of which is to illuminate the darkest parts of the craters on the surface of the moon. Thus, the device will conduct searches for water ice at the South Pole of the satellite.

A study of the surface of the moon is also expected during another mission called Artemis. But astronauts participating in this program may need resources that already exist on the lunar surface.

For example, water. This is a very difficult and expensive resource if you regularly deliver it from Earth. And therefore, for the work of astronauts on the moon, it is important to find sources of water ice directly on the moon.

According to researchers, it is located in lunar craters. Once detected, water ice should be melted and cleaned for use as rocket fuel. In search of ice, it is planned to use the “Moonlight”, also known as CubeSat. It is designed to detect natural surface ice, presumably located at the bottom of craters on the moon that have never seen sunlight.

Barbara Cohen, the mission lead researcher at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said exploring dark craters that had never seen sunlight could be effective in finding ice. “Moonlight” is a unique spacecraft that combines several technological achievements at once.

It may be the first ice search mission using lasers, including infrared lasers. Also, it will be the first propellant-powered apparatus - a new type of fuel. The mission will last two months. During this time, lasers will constantly examine visible craters above the South Pole of Moon.