#89 October 1995
Section 126.96.36.199.089.of the Artemis Data Book
Sunnyvale California, July 20, 1995
The Lunar Prospector program, headed by Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Binder of Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, will build on the science of the Apollo program and return America to the Moon in June 1997.
It is the first peer reviewed, competitively selected mission in NASA's new Discovery series of "Faster, Better, Cheaper" solar system exploration missions, and the Missiles & Space and Ames team was selected on February 28, 1995. G. Scott Hubbard of NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, is the NASA mission manager for Lunar Prospector.
The overall management of the Lunar Prospector program is the responsibility of Dr. Binder. The spacecraft and launch vehicle, a Lockheed Launch Vehicle 2, are being built at the Sunnyvale facility and are being readied for launch in June 1997. Dr. Dominick Tenerelli of Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale is the project manager.
During a one-year polar orbiting mission, Lunar Prospector will map the Moon's surface composition, gravity and magnetic fields, and volatile release activity. These data are needed for expanding the lunar science legacy of Apollo, and for planning future exploration missions. Lunar Prospector will demonstrate that high quality science missions can be accomplished economically and within short time scales.
The Lunar Prospector science payload was chosen from a list of experiments proposed by NASA scientists for lunar mapping missions. The spacecraft carries six of the highest priority experiments, chosen for their scientific value, their ability to be flown on a simple, spin-stabilized spacecraft, and for their low mass, power and data rate requirements.
The experiments are:
[Ed.: and the planning of lunar industrial development.]
Though uranium, thorium and potassium are only trace elements, they are found concentrated in a material called KREEP (potassium [K], rare earth elements [REE] and phos-phorus [P]). KREEP is not only the main source of these elements, but many other important trace elements such as zirconium, fluorine, and chlorine. Mapping the locations and concentrations of KREEP deposits is important to lunar science as it is believed that the material developed late in the formation of the lunar crust and upper mantle, and thus can help define how the crust and mantle formed and evolved.
On Earth, magnetic mapping is an important tool for locating economically important ore bodies. Similarly, the magnetic experiments will provide information to help under-stand the economic potential of the Moon.
The Lunar Prospector spacecraft is a small, simple, reliable, spin stabilized spacecraft with a fully fueled mass of 233 kg (513 lb.). It is 1.42 m (4.6 ft) in diameter, 1.22 m (4.1 ft) in axial length drum with solar cells mounted on its outer surface which provide 202 watts of power. The scientific instruments are mounted on three booms to isolate them from the bus and simplify the spacecraft-instrument interfaces.
The mission begins with launch in June of 1997. The flight to the Moon will take five days, during which two midcourse maneuvers occur, booms are deployed, and science instruments begin to collect calibration data.
Once the spacecraft reaches the Moon, it will perform three separate Lunar Orbit Insertion burns. The first burn will put the spacecraft into a 24-hour, elliptical orbit. One day later, the second burn will put the spacecraft into a four-hour elliptical orbit. Finally, 24-hours later, the third burn will insert the spacecraft into a circular, 118-minute, 100 km altitude, polar mapping orbit. At that point, the spacecraft will begin its nominal one-year mapping mission. During this phase, periodic orbital maintenance maneuvers will be made to keep the spacecraft in its proper orbit.
If, as expected, fuel is available at the end of the one-year nominal mission, the mapping may be extended, first during a six-week phase in a circular, 50 km altitude orbit to obtain much more sensitive magnetic and gravity data and then from elliptical orbits as low as 10 km above the surface over a few areas of special interest.
The mission will end when the fuel needed for orbital maintenance is depleted and the spacecraft
impacts on the lunar surface.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto