NASA Payloads for (Task Order) TO19D – Firefly Aerospace Blue Ghost Lander

Next Generation Lunar Retroreflector (NGLR)

  • Summary: The Next Generation Lunar Retroreflector (NGLR) serves as a target for lasers on Earth to precisely measure the distance between Earth and the Moon. The NGLR will reflect very short laser pulses from Earth-based Lunar Laser Ranging Observatories (LLROs). The laser pulse transit time to the Moon and back is used to determine the distance. The original Apollo retroflectors provided the coordinates for the Moon that we use today. NGLR will greatly improve upon the Apollo results with sub-millimeter range measurements, providing advances in the lunar coordinate system in advance of the Artemis program. The NGLR will support the Lunar Laser Ranging Program for a long-term investigation of lunar physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology. The improved ranging accuracy from NGLR will contribute to bettering our understanding of the inner structure of the Moon and in addressing theories of dark matter.
  • Type of Instrument: Cube Corner Retroreflector, housing, and mounting structure
  • Key Measurement: Precise distances to estimate lunar core oblateness, elastic tides, lunar tidal dissipation, Core/Mantle boundary dissipation, free physical librations, lunar cartography, and gravitomagnetism
  • Task Order: CLPS TO 19D
  • Lead Development Organization: University of Maryland
  • Payload PI: Dr. Douglas Currie

Radiation Tolerant Computer System (RadPC)

Radiation Tolerant Computer System (RadPC) CLPS payload
RadPC will provide detailed radiation information about the lunar landing site with a focus on ionizing radiation.
NASA / Montana State University
  • Summary: The Radiation Tolerant Computer (RadPC) is a technology demonstration of a radiation tolerant computer system. RadPC implements a set of fault mitigation strategies to recover from single event effects (SEEs) caused by ionizing radiation. The recovery procedures are implemented on a commercial Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). By using a modern commercial FPGA, an acceptable level of total ionizing dose (TID) can be achieved inherently while simultaneously taking advantage of the performance and power efficiency of commercial parts. The RadPC payload contains the computer technology running a comprehensive test program along with instrumentation on its state-of-health. Three dosimeters (detectors designed to measure the ionizing radiation) tuned to different sensitivity levels are included in the payload to provide further environmental information for correlation to RadPC’s performance and to provide detailed radiation information about the lunar landing site.
  • Type of Instrument: Radiation tolerant computer system: payload enclosure, dosimeter, thermal management system, Field Programmable Gate array circuit
  • Key Measurement: Ionizing radiation energy levels
  • Task Order: CLPS TO 19D
  • Lead Development Organization: Montana State University
  • Payload PI: Dr. Brock J. LaMeres

Regolith Adherence Characterization (RAC)

The instrument appears as a white rectangle, resting its long side on a white table and split in the middle. The right side is covered. The left side contains a wheel of samples, a circle with 15 smaller circles running around its perimeter. The smaller circles vary in color (e.g., grey, white, rust). Around the edges of the device are various gold hash marks. Three individuals wearing protective gear stand in the background.
RAC being delivered and fit checked at Firefly Aerospace.
NASA / Firefly Aerospace and Aegis Aerospace
A graphic image of the device is attached to the outside of a lander. Only the bottom corner of the lander is shown to focus on the mounted device. The rectangular, grey instrument shows its two identical sample wheels side by side with samples varying in color.
Schematic of the Regolith Adherence Characterization (RAC) payload affixed to a lander.
NASA / Alpha Space Test and Research Alliance, LLC
  • Summary: RAC will determine how lunar regolith sticks to a range of materials exposed to the Moon’s environment throughout the lunar day. Its purpose is to help scientists progress in their endeavor to protect spacecraft, spacesuits and habitats from abrasion. Thirty samples, including a dust collection disk, thermal control paint, Kapton, and titanium, have been provided by NASA and the industry. The samples constitute two identical sets of 15 samples that are contained in two wheels, denoted “A” and “B,” which rotate into view of cameras every 24 hours for imaging. The “B” wheel, which is covered until post-landing commissioning is complete (a few hours after landing), acts as a control for transit effects on the “A” wheel, which is exposed for the entire mission. RAC will also quantify accumulation rates caused by landing and routine lander operations. RAC will collect IR, UV, and temperature data to augment science return of the 5.1 MP images. Operations are autonomous with some ground commanding access for recovery and contingency. Components of this experiment are derived from Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) on ISS.
  • Type of Instrument: Dust collector/detector - Collection of panels with different materials
  • Key Measurement: RAC will measure accumulation rates of lunar regolith on the surfaces of several materials (e.g., solar cells, optical systems, coatings, and sensors) through imaging to determine their ability to repel or shed lunar regolith/dust.
  • Task Order: CLPS TO 19D
  • Lead Development Organization: Aegis Aerospace, Inc.
  • Payload PI: Matt Carter

Lunar Magnetotelluric Sounder (LMS)

Lunar Magnetotelluric Sounder (LMS) CLPS payload
LMS will determine the structure and composition of the Moon’s mantle by studying electric and magnetic fields.
NASA / Southwest Research Institute
  • Summary:
  • The Lunar Magnetotelluric Sounder measures natural time-varying electric and magnetic fields from the solar wind and Earth’s magnetosphere to determine the electrical conductivity profile of the Moon’s interior. This investigation will constrain the temperature structure and history of the Moon, as well as distinguish the "normal" Mare Crisium region from the anomalous western nearside of the Moon (where all of the Apollo landings occurred). The instrument uses components and heritage from several prior missions, including MAVEN, THEMIS, and MSL-RAD.
  • Type of Instrument: Electrometer and Magnetometer
  • Key Measurement: The ratio of the electric field spectrum to the magnetic field spectrum at the lunar surface determines the frequency-dependent ground impedance, akin to Ohm's Law. This in turn allows the depth-dependent conductivity to be recovered.
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19D
  • Lead Development Organization: Southwest Research Institute
  • Payload PI: Dr. Robert Grimm

Lunar Environment Heliospheric X-ray Imager (LEXI)

Lunar Environment Heliophysics X-ray Imager (LEXI) TO19D CLPS payload
LEXI undergoing final inspection before delivery to the lander. The payload will make wide field-of-view images of Earth’s magnetosheath and magnetopause.
NASA / GSFC / Boston University
  • Summary: LEXI is a wide field-of-view soft X-ray imager that will image Earth’s magnetosheath and magnetopause to study how energy is coupled from the flowing solar wind into Earth's space environment to generate geomagnetic storms and space weather. The payload detects soft X-ray photons (0.1 - 2 keV) emitted from the charge exchange between high charge state solar wind ions and neutrals in Earth’s exosphere. To learn more about Earth’s magnetosphere, see NASA’s THEMIS Mission.
  • Type of Instrument: nine lobster-eye, micropore, optical elements on a single mounting plate with a 75 cm radius of curvature.
  • Key Measurement: imaging the magnetopause through a wide field of view, soft X-ray imager. (Heliospheric X-ray Imager)
  • Task Order: CLPS TO 19D
  • Lead Development Organization: Boston University
  • Payload PI: Dr. Brian Walsh

Lunar PlanetVac (LPV)

This graphic demonstrates how the few dozen pieces that comprise LTV fit together. The silver parts are disassembled and suspended in the air frozen, displaying the overall shape of the instrument while allowing space to observe the construction. The silver metal base extends up to the left at a slant, and the remaining components follow the same diagonal direction.
This simulated graphic shows the internal workings of Lunar PlanetVac (LPV), whose three complex subsystems and transfer hoses will capture samples of regolith up to one centimeter long. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Honeybee Robotics
  • Summary: PlanetVac will collect samples of lunar regolith (soil) from the surface using a pneumatic technique (powered by compressed gas) and its delivery system will transfer the samples to other instruments that will analyze the material. The payload will be attached to a lander footpad and connected to instruments via a pneumatic transfer hose. Lunar PlanetVac is a pneumatic based sample acquisition and delivery system that will acquire and transfer lunar regolith from the surface to other instruments that will analyze the material. It consists of three subsystems: Sampling Head, Transfer Tube, and Sample Container. Pressurized gas is jetted towards the surface within the Sampling Head, stirring up the regolith into a cloud of dust. A secondary set of jets pointed up the Transfer Tube carry this regolith directly into a Sample Container. The sampling operation takes a few seconds and does not require human in the loop. Captured regolith, up to 1 cm in size, will be sieved and photographed inside the Sample Container. LPV is classified as a technology is applicable for any mission or instrument that requires a surface (or subsurface) sample.
  • Type of Instrument: Pneumatic regolith sampling system
  • Key Measurement: LPV will collect and sort surface lunar regolith within a sample collection chamber.
  • Task Order: CLPS TO 19D
  • Lead Development Organization: Honeybee Robotics
  • Payload PI: Dr. Kris Zacny

Lunar Instrumentation for Subsurface Thermal Exploration with Rapidity (LISTER )

The image consists of five adjacent pictures which show various stages during LISTER’s probe testing. The device sits in a vacuum chamber with wires and tubes connecting around and behind a silver case at the front. The casing has spokes that extend outward and hook around a golden frame in the shape of an inverted U. Below this sits a grey disc that shields the probing device from falling debris as it’s pulled up.
The series of photos provides insight on thermal probe, LISTER, in action, by showing its progress over 5 stages in a vacuum. When integrated into a lander, it will penetrate the Moon’s core, track the flow of heat, and quantify it. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Texas Tech
  • Summary: LISTER will measure the flow of heat originating from the interior of the Moon. It is designed to penetrate 2- to 3-m depth into the Moon’s rock and dust surface (the lunar regolith) and determine the heat flow as a product of two separate measurements: thermal gradient – how temperature changes with depth; and thermal conductivity – how well heat flows via conduction – at various depths using five measurements.
  • Type of Instrument: pneumatically-drilled subsurface thermal probe
  • Key Measurement: quantify the heat flow through temperature and the thermal conductivity measurements
  • Task Order: CLPS TO 19D
  • Lead Development Organization: Texas Tech University
  • Payload PI: Dr. Seiichi Nagihara

Note: See also CP12

Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies (SCALPSS)

One of the SCALPSS cameras is attached securely to a metal receptacle. The section directly touching the camera is golden and the larger mount behind is silver. Wiring connects the camera to items outside the frame: a silver pair of wires is attached at the top and red wire is attached to the front with blue adhesive.
One of the four cameras that will capture information about the lander’s descent and assess how it affects the lunar surface. The stereo cameras will capture images and data of the plume (column of exhaust gases) and surface area below the lander. Credit: NASA/LaRC
A graphic image of the landing process SCALPSS will capture. Orange, yellow, and green streaks extend downward from a grey lander toward the surface, which represents a column of exhaust gases. The colors abruptly transition at the surface to a bright blue ring surrounded by turquoise; these represent materials from the lunar surface that will rise and be spurred into movement by the lander’s engines while it descends. The turquoise forms what appears to be mounds of dust that surround the landing area.
This generated model represents the type of 3D images the SCALPSS cameras will produce. The orange, yellow, and green column is plume (column of exhaust gases) from the engines during landing/descent. The turquoise and blue represent displaced dust from the lunar surface. Credit: NASA/LaRC
SCALPSS is hovering near the ground above a sizable dust cloud caused by lander plume. The shape of the structure consists of four silver spheres clustered adjacent to each other, with each sphere containing a camera. Two pairs of adjoined legs extend down from the bottom. In the background, a blue-sky is visible.
SCALPSS is being tested at Kennedy Space Center. The system is a suite of four identical cameras designed to capture coverage of the lander plume and its effects on the surface below. This demonstration mimics the coverage SCALPSS will get in a lunar landing, which will include 3D images. Credit: NASA/KSC
  • Summary: SCALPSS 1.1 is a slightly enhanced version of the original SCALPSS payload, which is scheduled to fly on CLPS Task Order 2-IM (Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission). It will capture video and still image data of the lunar surface prior to, during, and after the lander’s descent engine plumes interact with the lunar surface. By collecting topography data through stereo photogrammetry both prior to and after Plume-Surface Interactions (PSI), an accurate measurement of the total erosion and crater volume can be made. Transient data collected while PSI is occurring will add information regarding the rate at which the surface morphology changes. This data will then be used to validate computational models of PSI effects which are critical in the design and risk evaluation of future large lunar landers. The SCALPSS 1.1 payload is based off the Entry, Descent, and Landing Camera Suite (EDL) used by the Mars 2020 lander, which acquired visual data via complement of camera systems.
  • Type of Instrument: Camera
  • Key Measurement: Topography data to accurately determine the total erosion and crater volume during PSI as well as the rate of change. Return of validation data for computational models of PSI effects to be used on future landers.
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19D
  • Lead Development Organization: NASA LaRC
  • Payload PI: Michelle Munk

Note: See also TO2-IM

Electrodynamic Dust Shield (EDS)

  • Summary: Hazardous dust is present on Mars, the Moon, and comets. The Electrodynamic Dust Shield (EDS) is an active dust mitigation technology that uses electric fields to move dust from surfaces and to prevent dust accumulation on surfaces. The EDS, which can lift, transport, and remove particles from surfaces with no moving parts, will be demonstrated for the first time on the lunar surface. This technology will show the feasibility of self-cleaning glass and thermal radiator surfaces. In addition to dust removal, the EDS will apply lunar dust to these surfaces using a new reduster technology that will lift and transport dust from the lunar surface to the desired location without moving parts or gasses. The EDS will be released from a fifth leg of the lander and positioned directly onto the lunar surface to maximize dust contact. High resolution images will determine the dust removal efficiency of the EDS on the lunar surface.
  • Type of Instrument: Dust Shield
  • Key Measurement: Demonstrate the operation of two Electrodynamic Dust Shield (EDS) systems on the lunar surface: EDS for a small camera to be located under the lander’s deck and EDS on a white aluminum panel to be located on a lander’s footpad.
  • Task Order: CLPS TO19D
  • Lead Development Organization: Electrostatics and Surface Physics Laboratory at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC)
  • Payload PI: Charles Buhler

Lunar GNSS Receiver Experiment (LuGRE)

  • Summary: The Lunar GNSS Receiver Experiment (LuGRE) will demonstrate Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-based spacecraft navigation in transit to the Moon and on the lunar surface. This will open the door to operational use of existing Earth-based GNSS signals for real-time onboard positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) around the Moon, increasing mission capability while reducing reliance on ground networks for PNT. The LuGRE payload is a collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). The payload will achieve three primary objectives: a) to receive GNSS signals at the Moon and characterize the signal environment, b) to demonstrate navigation and time estimation using GNSS data collected at the Moon, and c) utilize the collected data to support development of GNSS receivers specific to lunar use.
  • Type of Instrument: weak-signal GNSS radio receiver; a 14dBi high-gain GNSS antenna; and a low-noise amplifier
  • Key Measurement: GPS signal strength radio signals (GPS L1 C/A and L5 bands, and Galileo E1 and E5a bands)
  • Task Order: CLPS TO 19D
  • Lead Development Organization: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)
  • Payload PI: Joel Parker
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