NASA has chosen 9 scientists to join the upcoming Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) mission, together with two planetary scientists at UC Santa Cruz. Assistant Professor Ian Garrick-Bethell and affiliate researcher Mikhail Kreslavsky, each within the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UCSC, are among the many taking part scientists who will join the KPLO science crew.

Set to launch in August 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 and orbit the moon for a couple of 12 months, KPLO is the primary area exploration mission of the Republic of Korea (ROK) that may journey past Earth orbit.

“The KPLO Participating Scientist Program is an example of how international collaborations can leverage the talents of two space agencies to achieve greater science and exploration success than individual missions,” mentioned KPLO Project Manager Sang-Ryool Lee. “It’s fantastic that the Korea Aerospace Research Institute lunar mission has NASA as a partner in space exploration—we’re excited to see the new knowledge and opportunities that will arise from the KPLO mission as well as from future joint KARI–NASA activities.”

Each of the 9 taking part scientists will join the KPLO science crew for not less than one of many 5 KPLO devices starting later this 12 months and will likely be funded for 3 years. Garrick-Bethell will likely be learning the lithospheric magnetic area of the moon utilizing the KPLO magnetometer, KMAG. Kreslavsky will participate within the examine of lunar polarimetric anomalies utilizing PolCam, a wide-angle polarimetric digital camera.

The three overarching targets of the KPLO mission are realizing the primary area exploration mission by ROK, creating and verifying area applied sciences appropriate for deep-space exploration on future missions, and investigating the bodily traits of the lunar floor to assist future robotic touchdown missions to the moon.

To meet these aims, the spacecraft will carry a payload of 5 scientific devices to embody three cameras, a magnetometer, and a gamma-ray spectrometer. NASA is contributing one of many cameras, often called ShadowCam, which will likely be used to get hold of optical photographs at excessive decision of the completely shadowed areas on the lunar poles of the moon which can be thought to include ice.

“It is important that the participating scientists are fully embedded in the existing KARI and NASA teams well before the mission is due to launch,” mentioned Shoshana Weider from NASA’s Planetary Science Division, who leads the KPLO Participating Scientist Program. “This means they will have plenty of time to collaborate with their KARI colleagues during the pre-launch mission-planning phase, which will help ensure that the science return of their projects, and the mission as a whole, is maximized.”

The moon would be the focus of many robotic and human exploration missions within the coming years, together with these underneath NASA’s Artemis program. Beginning later this 12 months, NASA will ship science devices and expertise experiments on two separate robotic landers to the lunar floor. The KPLO lunar mission will present scientific information to higher perceive the lunar poles and help planning for some Artemis actions.


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