The European Space Agency ESA called for proposals for small satellites, CubeSats, to be sent to the Moon with the question what such tiny satellites could do there. Four of the proposals will now be studied in more detail for possible flight over the coming decade.
The four different miniature missions variously involve probing lunar radiation, surveying the radio sky over the far side of the Moon, mapping minerals and frozen gases within shadowed craters, and detecting flashes from meteoroids striking the surface. The four teams are now being funded until this autumn by ESA to develop their ideas.
One of the selected proposals (MoonCARE) deals with mapping the lunar radiation environment and evaluating its effect on life. Staff members of the Radiation Biology Department of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine are involved for the study and definition of the relevant experiment hardware.
MoonCARE consists of a trio of six-unit CubeSats which measure the radiation environment and its effects on microorganisms with an eye on space radiation risk for building closed-loop life support systems for future human crews. It was proposed by the Von Karman Institute, German Aerospace Center – Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Tyvak International, Politecnico di Torino, and OHB.
“We are all looking forward to this unique opportunity for being part in the design of this CubeSat mission to the Moon and of course hope to be the winner of the study and fly our experiments to the Moon” (Statement: T. Berger & E.Rabbow for the DLR science team of MoonCARE).