Researchers have always been interested in the dark side of the moon, namely the meteorite effect on the surface of the earth's satellite. Now the LUMIO project headed by Francesco Topputo, an associate professor of aerospace systems at the Polytechnic University of Milan (Italy), will take up this issue.
The goal of the project is to use an advanced camera to observe meteorites crashing into the lunar surface. In combination with the already existing terrestrial survey, observations could provide a more complete picture of what is happening. Awareness of where meteorites come from and how they land will help to explore the environment in outer space.
Call for CubeSats
SysNova is an ESA initiative that uses technological challenges to attract the best developments from European companies, universities and research centers. In 2016, they created the Lunar CubeSats for Exploration contest, in which 60 teams participated. In the spring of 2017, only 4 finalists appeared among the participants, who received grants for $ 100,000. They were also given 6 months for initial research. LUMIO won in December 2017.
Roberto Furfaro - Associate Professor at the Department of Systems and Industrial Engineering and the Department of Aerospace and Engineering Industry
CubeSats are tiny satellites. From the very beginning they were used in universities for training. But they soon proved their scientific value due to their low cost at creation, small size and weight. Now space agencies are considering the possibility of sending these satellites into deep space. Some systems for LUMIO were created by Kevin Jacquinot, who dreamed of taking up the exploration of the Moon again.
Moon Situational Awareness
One of the goals of LUMIO is a better understanding of what is happening on the moon and what influences it. This is especially important for the United States, since Donald Trump supported the initiative to send astronauts to an earth satellite.
The LUMIO project has become a winner and will now work on parallel engineering research with ESA in the coming months.
Weight LUMIO reaches about 50 pounds. At the first stage, it will be transported to the satellite by means of a vehicle, and then installed on the lunar orbit. In the second phase, the device will reach the point L2 - the gravitational “parking” space (Lagrange point). In the third phase, the LUMIO will be fixed on the 29-day orbital path, corresponding to the lunar cycle.
Within two weeks, the Moon will be dark enough for the apparatus to record events of meteorite falls. In the next two weeks, the earth satellite will become too bright, so researchers use this period to recalibrate the navigation system and maintain the correct trajectory.
LUMIO will hold on to the L2 for about a year, and then head for the lunar surface. Another device with the right tools can get valuable information about the depths of the moon.