21 May 2013 Lunar magnetic field measurements with a cubesat
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Abstract
We have developed a mission concept that uses 3-unit cubesats to perform new measurements of lunar magnetic fields, less than 100 meters above the Moon’s surface. The mission calls for sending the cubesats on impact trajectories to strongly magnetic regions on the surface, and transmitting measurements in real-time to a nearby spacecraft, or directly to the Earth, up until milliseconds before impact. The cubesats and their instruments are partly based on the NSF-funded CINEMA cubesat now in Earth orbit. Two methods of reaching the Moon as a secondary payload are discussed: 1) After launching into geostationary transfer orbit with a communication satellite, a small mother-ship travels into lunar orbit and releases the cubesats on impact trajectories, and 2) The cubesats travel to the Moon using their own propulsion after release into geosynchronous orbit. This latter version would also enable other near-Earth missions, such as constellations for studying magnetospheric processes, and observations of close-approaching asteroids.
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Ian Garrick-Bethell, Robert P. Lin, Hugo Sanchez, Belgacem A. Jaroux, Manfred Bester, Patrick Brown, Daniel Cosgrove, Michele K. Dougherty, Jasper S. Halekas, Doug Hemingway, Paulo C. Lozano, Francois Martel, Caleb W. Whitlock, "Lunar magnetic field measurements with a cubesat", Proc. SPIE 8739, Sensors and Systems for Space Applications VI, 873903 (21 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2015666; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2015666
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