NASA Payloads for (Task Order) TO19C – Masten Space Systems XL-1 Lander

Lunar Compact Infrared Imaging System (L-CIRiS)

The image consists of a simulation of the level of detail that L-CIRiS's infrared camera will reveal of the moon's surface. The image shows a simulation of the device as well as what a map would look like of the surface. It would consist of a varying scale of blue to yellow shading based on the surface temperature, with blue being the coldest.
L-CIRiS’s infrared camera will ride along with one of three robotic landers that will touch down on the lunar surface in the next several years. The goal is to collect better maps of the lunar surface to understand how it formed and its geological history. L-CIRiS will use infrared technology to map the temperatures of the shadows and boulders that dot the lunar surface in greater detail than any images to date.
NASA / University of Colorado
  • Summary: L-CIRiS is an infrared imaging radiometer designed for understanding the thermal and physical properties of the lunar surface, and the major minerals in rocks and the regolith. L-CIRiS will produce the first thermal infrared images from the surface of the Moon, which can be used as ground truth for other thermal measurements made from lunar orbit leading to a better understanding of the thermal environment of the entire Moon. The temperature distribution of the lunar surface will also help determine the size of small, shadowed areas where frozen water ice and other volatiles may exist at the lunar poles. These small areas are referred to as micro cold traps. Measurements of the physical properties of the regolith, such as grain size, porosity, rock abundance, and thermal inertia will be useful for future missions that will be traversing across the lunar surface. Finally, as L-CIRiS scans the lunar landscape in four spectral bands, it will generate images of spectral emissivity, and it is these emissivity images that will then be processed to generate high resolution (< 1 cm) maps of the major silicate mineral composition of rocks and regolith near the lander, providing important data on the evolution of the Moon's crust.
  • Type of Instrument: Radiometer (multispectral, long-wave infrared imaging radiometer)
  • Key Measurement: Measures infrared wavelengths of light, to explore the Moon's surface composition, map its surface temperature distribution. L-CIRiS will scan between about ±120° in azimuth, with a vertical field of view of 15.6° spanning from ~3.6 m all the way to the horizon. Using four spectral filters, L-CIRiS will measure emissivity at 7.5, 7.8, and 8.3 μm, as well as temperatures from < 100 K to >400 K with a broadband filter ~7 - 14 μm. Surface temperatures, surface properties, major mineral abundance
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19C
  • Lead Development Organization: University of Colorado
  • Payload PI: Dr. Paul Hayne

Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer (LETS)

A small circuit board used within LETS instruments that spans approximately 12 cm, based on the arrows used here for scale. The Timepix technology is specifically indicated to the right.
  • Summary: During lunar exploration missions outside of the Earth’s protective atmosphere, exposure to space radiation has a detrimental effect on the health of the astronauts. Lunar surface environments present a greater radiation risk to the astronaut than Low Earth Orbit (LEO). There are two sources of radiation risk for lunar surface environments. The first source of risk is the total radiation dose from Galactic Cosmic Rays, which is about twice as high on the lunar surface as in LEO. The second source of risk is from space weather events resulting from solar activity. The Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer (LETS) is a radiation monitor that is derived from heritage hardware flown on Orion EFT-1 and slated to fly on the Orion EM-1 mission that will enable acquisition of knowledge of the lunar radiation environment and demonstrate the capabilities of a system on the lunar surface. The LETS radiation sensor is a solid-state silicon Timepix detector that is derived from heritage hardware that was flown on Orion EFT-1. This sensor will measure the rate of incident radiation providing, information that is critical to understanding and mitigating the hazardous environment that people will experience as they explore the surface of the Moon.
  • Type of Instrument: Radiation sensor
  • Key Measurement: Radiation
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19C
  • Lead Development Organization: NASA JSC
  • Payload PI: Dr. Edward Semones

Note: See also TO2-AB


This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth.
A light grey colored box sits in the center of the image with screws in each corner as well as four memory drives along the front face.  The box is somewhat flat in shape with a common Swiss army knife resting near the DVR as a size comparison. Image Credit: NASA/JSC/Planetary Science Institute
A digital video recorder (DVR) will be able to record and store the images and video from the cameras.
NASA / JSC / Planetary Science Institute
  • Summary: The Heimdall camera system consists of four cameras and a digital video recorder to store all the camera images and data. The wide-angle descent imager captures near-video-speed images of the interactions of the lander rocket plumes with the lunar regolith. Once landed, this camera will also acquire high resolution images (500 microns per pixel) of the surface under the spacecraft, documenting the final state of the regolith after landing. Two wide-angle panoramic cameras will be used to image the surface terrain around the landing site, providing geologic context and mapping of the local area. The narrow-angle regolith imager will provide close-up, very high resolution (75 microns per pixel) images of particles that make up the lunar regolith providing information on particle size and shape, and the interaction between particles. Currently, two of the cameras (one of the panoramic cameras and the regolith imager) are mounted on the end of the SAMPLR robotic arm.

  • Type of Instrument: Four 5 Megapixel, color CMOS cameras plus an on-payload data recorder

  • Key Measurement: Surface images at all scales

  • Task Order: CLPS TO19C

  • Lead Development Organization: Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona

  • Payload PI: Dr. Aileen Yingst

MoonRanger + Neutron Spectrometer System (NSS)

MoonRanger will provide the housing and transport necessary for the neutron spectrometer to determine the composition of the regolith at the landing site as well as measure the abundance of hydrogen-bearing materials in the rock.
NASA / Astrobotic Technology
  • Summary: MoonRanger is a polar micro rover the size of a small suitcase that pushes the boundaries of miniaturization, autonomy, and high-performance computing, traversing both the sunlit lunar surface and the darkness of permanently shadowed regions (PSRs). While exploring, it senses terrain, navigates, estimates its location, and builds maps of where it has been. The technology demonstrated by MoonRanger will lead to other lunar roving vehicles of all types. The neutron spectrometer system inside MoonRanger will measure and map the amount of hydrogen in the lunar regolith, searching for water ice on the lunar surface and up to a meter below the surface. That water ice will be valuable for the scientific understanding of volatiles in the inner solar system, and a future resource for human explorers.
  • Type of Instrument: Rover
  • Key Measurement: Robotic rover operation and regolith hydrogen content
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19C
  • Lead Development Organization: Astrobotic Technology
  • Payload PI: Michael Provenzano

Note: See also TO2-AB and TO20A-VIPER

Mass Spectrometer Observing Lunar Operations (MSolo)

MSolo will allow identification of low-molecular-weight volatiles. It aims to classify different molecules in the exosphere and collect information on possible formation of those volatiles.
  • Summary: MSolo will identify low-molecular-weight volatiles with unit mass resolution at high enough resolution to measure isotopes of elements including hydrogen (D/H) and oxygen (O18/O16). In other words, we can identify different molecules in the exosphere of the Moon, including possible water, and gather information about where those volatiles originally came from. MSolo will measure the gasses coming from the lander during touchdown to identify what the lander brought to the lunar surface and will monitor for changes as the mission progresses. MSolo will work in tandem with other co-manifested instruments, such as NIRVSS, to evaluate freshly churned regolith for evidence of ice and other volatiles – materials that readily evaporate at only moderately warm temperatures.
  • Type of Instrument: Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer
  • Key Measurement: Volatile composition at the lunar surface
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19C
  • Lead Development Organization: NASA KSC
  • Payload PI: Dr. Janine Captain, Dr. Jackie Quinn

Note: See also TO2-AB, TO20A-VIPER, and PRIME-1

Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System (NIRVSS)

A golden device, known as LETS, sits on a white desk. The IR lamp shines a dark purple while the SCI is a dark black. Most of the devices attached to LETS have a circular shape including: the IR lamp, SCI, Spec. Fiber Aperture, LCS, and the LEDs.
NIRVSS will measure surface and subsurface hydration on the Moon. These measurements can be taken while the instrument is moving.
  • Summary: The payload includes a spectrometer context imager and a longwave calibration sensor. It measures surface and subsurface hydration (H2O and OH) and CO2 and methane (CH4) while simultaneously mapping surface morphology and surface temperature. The plan is for the measurements to take place during rover traverse when integrated onto a rover, throughout areas of targeted volatile investigation (called science stations), and during drilling activities. This instrument was created at NASA Ames Research Center. In total, it has three specific instruments: the near-infrared spectrometer, Ames imaging module, and longwave calibration sensor.
    • “The near-infrared spectrometer captures the reflected spectra of the lunar surface when illuminated with light of a variety of wavelengths. This information can be used to determine the material properties of the lunar surface and identify if water or other materials are present in an image. The Ames imaging module is a camera that captures images to contextualize the spectrometer data. The longwave calibration system precisely measures the temperature of the lunar surface to calibrate data from the spectrometer.” (January, 2021)
  • Type of Instrument: Two-channel Near-infrared Point Spectrometer
  • Key Measurement: Volatile composition of surface and subsurface
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19C
  • Lead Development Organization: NASA ARC
  • Payload PI: Dr. Anthony Colaprete

Note: See also TO2-AB and TO20A-VIPER

Sample Acquisition, Morphology Filtering & Probing of Lunar Regolith (SAMPLR)

Artist’s concept of the mostly grey mechanical arm is attached to the haul of a virtual lander. The mechanical arm rests on the surface of the moon. There are multiple arrows pointing to the many pieces of the apparatus to show what the tool
Artist’s concept of the robotic arm, which will be used to collect samples. SAMPLR was a flight spare from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission and will now be able to capture regolith data and provide a basis for future lunar technologies.
NASA / MAXAR Technologies
  • Summary: SAMPLR will demonstrate the use of robotic arm technology on the lunar surface, qualifying its mechanisms for future surface missions on all types of vehicles. It will be operated and directed by people back on Earth. At the end of the arm is a probe to collect geotechnical information on the lunar regolith, and a scoop to collect and sieve samples of the regolith. The robotic arm can also deliver regolith samples in front of other science payloads so they can analyze the regolith up close. SAMPLR will also have two of Heimdall’s cameras on the end of the arm.
  • Type of Instrument: Robotic Arm to probe, collect, and sieve Regolith
  • Key Measurement: Regolith properties
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19C
  • Lead Development Organization: MAXAR Technologies Inc.
  • Payload PI: Sean Dougherty

Laser Retroreflector (LRA)

The device is a gold-colored ball with a large square flat plate running through the middle and out the sides of the sphere. The gold-colored sphere is hollow with many holes going through it. These holes have a black edge as well as are equidistant from one another.
The Laser Retroreflector (LRA) is pictured with its gold painted aluminum hemisphere and eight cube prism retroreflectors. This will then be mounted on the lander deck to which will help precision measurement of the distance between orbiting or landing spacecraft.
The Moon’s surface is presented in grey hues with black space in the background. An orbiter is hovering above the surface with graphic images to represent the laser for measurements. There are three orbiters to represent the different positions possible in orbit. In the center of the crater, on the surface of the moon, sits a yellow star to represent the lander’s position.
This generated image shows how the LRA will be located on the surface of the Moon so orbiting spacecraft can retroreflect to find a precise distance.
  • Summary: A retroreflector bounces any light that shines on it directly backward (180 degrees from the incoming light). The LRA is a collection of eight of these, each a 1.25-cm diameter glass corner cube prism, all embedded in an aluminum hemisphere (painted gold as shown here) and is mounted to the lander deck. This design ensures that the LRA can retroreflect (i.e., bounce) laser light from other orbiting and landing spacecraft over a wide range of incoming directions and efficiently retroreflect the laser signal directly back at the originating spacecraft. This enables precision laser ranging, which is a measurement of the distance between the orbiting or landing spacecraft to the LRA on the lander. The LRA is a passive optical instrument and will function as a permanent fiducial (i.e., location) marker on the Moon for decades to come. (Note: this LRA design is too small for laser ranging from Earth).
  • Type of Instrument: Passive optical device that reflects laser light directly backward (for laser ranging)
  • Key Measurement: Precise distances
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19C
  • Lead Development Organization: NASA GSFC
  • Payload PI: Dr. Xiaoli Sun

Note: See also TO2-AB, TO2-IM, and TO20A-VIPER

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