SmallSats and CubeSats

A small, green satellite rests on a white surface. It is in the shape of a cube with black rectangular panels that cover various spots on the outer surface.

NASA and National Reconnaissance Office launched small satellites in 2015. Small satellites, including CubeSats, are making increasingly larger impacts in exploration, technology demonstration, scientific research, and educational investigations. Credit: NASA

These miniaturized spacecrafts are used to deliver small payloads into space. LTB (Lunar Trailblazer) is an example of a SmallSat that addresses major scientific questions about the Moon and water cycles on airless bodies and enables future exploration by evaluating locations of the operationally useful deposits of water and providing compositional base maps of landing zones. The instruments on LTB include 1) High-resolution Volatiles and Minerals Moon Mapper (HVM3): a JPL-built imaging spectrometer (0.6-3.6 µm), and 2) Lunar Thermal Mapper (LTM): a University of Oxford-built multispectral thermal camera (7-100 µm) to determine the form, abundance, and distribution of water on the Moon.