NASA's Lunar Flashlight Will Find Water Sources to Help Astronauts "Live off the Land"

Tuesday, 02 February 2016 - 2:17PM
Space
Moon
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 - 2:17PM
NASA's Lunar Flashlight Will Find Water Sources to Help Astronauts "Live off the Land"
NASA plans to begin manned missions to Mars in 2030, but before that can happen, we will likely make another manned stop at our Moon in order to test all of our equipment and space-living skills. As a result, NASA is planning on sending a giant "lunar flashlight" to map the Moon's water sources to prepare for future long-term missions.

The Lunar Flashlight project was approved early last year, and will send a low-cost CubeSat ("cube satellite") to the Moon's orbit equipped with a high-powered laser. The "flashlight" will map the concentration of exposed water ice at the 1-2 kilometer scale, which may assist astronauts with long-term sustainability in the future.

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"In a future mission, we'd have to live off the land," Jitendra Joshi, head of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems, explained during a press conference (via Gizmodo). "This map could help find good sites for that."
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The Lunar Flashlight will be sent out into space along with equipment for 13 other science projects, including a solar sail mission that will fly to near-Earth asteroid 1991BG. This project is intended as a "precursor scout mission for a human mission," sending back photos and other data in order to pave the way for humans to visit an asteroid for the first time. 

There were several other projects named today as part of the overall mission, including mapping the hydrogen on the Moon, mapping the Moon's surface, searching for lunar ice, measuring space radiation, and monitoring space weather. That leaves six open projects remaining, three of which are reserved for official space agencies, while the other three are open to the public as part of NASA's Centennial CubeQuest Challenge.
Science
NASA
Space
Moon

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