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Advanced Exploration Systems Division

Lunar IceCube

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Lunar IceCube is a 6U CubeSat that will launched by SLS on EM-1.  Its mission is to prospect for water in ice, liquid, and vapor forms and other lunar volatiles from a low-perigee, inclined lunar orbit.  Morehead State University is leading the development of Lunar IceCube under a NextSTEP partnership.  Lunar IceCube will use the Broadband InfraRed Compact High Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES), developed by Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). BIRCHES is a compact version of the successful New Horizons instrument designed with the high spectral resolution (5 nm) and wavelength range (1 to 4 µm) needed to distinguish forms of water, including ice.  This compact, extremely sensitive spectrometer can be adapted for future small satellite missions in support of solar system exploration. Lunar IceCube will use an innovative RF Ion engine combined with a low energy trajectory to achieve lunar capture and a science orbit of 100 km perilune.

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