NASA's Lunar Trailblazer is nearing completion now that its second and final cutting-edge science instrument has been added to the small spacecraft. Built by the University of Oxford in England and contributed by the UK Space Agency, the Lunar Thermal Mapper (LTM) joins the High-resolution Volatiles and Minerals Moon Mapper (HVM3), which was integrated with the spacecraft late last year. Together, the instruments will enable scientists to determine the abundance, location, and form of the Moon's water.
Led by Caltech, Lunar Trailblazer has a mass of about 440 pounds (200 kilograms) and measures only 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) wide with its solar panels fully deployed. The small satellite will rely on the LTM instrument to gather temperature data that will reveal the thermal properties of the lunar surface and the composition of silicate rocks and soils. The HVM3 imaging spectrometer, which was built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, will detect and map the form, abundance, and locations of water in the same regions as the LTM instrument.
"Lunar exploration is an international endeavor, and Lunar Trailblazer embodies that spirit with the University of Oxford's and UK Space Agency's contribution to the mission," said Bethany Ehlmann, the mission's principal investigator and professor of planetary science, as well as the associate director of the Keck Institute for Space Studies. "With the combined power of both of these sophisticated instruments, we can better understand where and why water is on the Moon and support the next era of Moon exploration."
Read more at JPL News.