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Unmanned _ Lunar Exploration _ SpaceIL lunar lander mission - 2019

Posted by: Phil Stooke Sep 13 2018, 06:21 AM

I'm setting this up in preparation for the launch of SpaceIL's lunar mission, probably early next year. They have arranged a rideshare with Spaceflight Industries on a Falcon 9 launch early in 2019. Earlier they were saying launch in December, land on the Moon in February, so now I assume the landing might be delayed until March. This mission was originally going to be part of the Google Lunar X Prize, but that of course is now gone. It might be rekindled with a different sponsor (though I doubt it).

SpaceIL is the first of the GLXP teams to actually make it to a launch. For what it's worth, I expect Astrobotic to fly as well, and I think Team Indus and PTScientists may also get off the ground. I'm hearing things about Moon Express which cause me to doubt its chances.

More on landing sites shortly.


Posted by: Phil Stooke Sep 13 2018, 07:09 PM

The lander will carry a magnetometer, and landing site discussions have suggested landing at a magnetic anomaly. Early talk about this suggested landing at the well-known Reiner Gamma swirl and magnetic anomaly in Oceanus Procellarum, probably the best known such feature on the Moon. This was illustrated in a Youtube video:

Subsequent work changed the target. Areas within about 20 degrees of the limb were off limits to avoid communication problems, and areas within about --- degrees of the equator were rejected for thermal reasons (to avoid the hottest temperatures at lunar noon). Within the northern and southern zones remaining, topographically safe sites were selected, avoiding regions with particularly low or high albedo to facilitate use of the laser altimeter. Those sites were compared with maps of magnetic anomalies and three potential sites were selected. This process is described in a 2017 LPSC abstract and poster:

LPSC abstract, 2017:

associated poster:

(I spoke to Grossman at the meeting).

The favoured site was near Berzelius crater. I will show a map later.


Posted by: Phil Stooke Sep 23 2018, 05:49 PM

This illustration shows the sites suggested for SpaceIL in the abstract and poster mentioned above.

The company which built the lander for SpaceIL is contemplating the possibility of future missions:


Posted by: nprev Sep 24 2018, 03:48 AM

Interesting. Kinda makes me wonder if they're actually interested in finding ferrous metal deposits, presumably left by iron-nickel impactors.

Posted by: Phil Stooke Oct 30 2018, 11:46 PM

SpaceIL has been running a lander name competition - I didn't know about it, but it looks like it ran on their Facebook page and they got lots of suggestions, then made a shortlist and are now asking the public to vote on names from the shortlist.


Posted by: Phil Stooke Nov 8 2018, 05:13 PM

A very nice update on SpaceIL at the Planetary Society:

In particular it contains details of the landing site, and it is one I had not seen mentioned before. The previous site information which I posted above was from an LPSC presentation, but this is different - the NW edge of Mare Serenitatis. In the earlier work mare areas were ruled out as not suitable for the use of their laser altimeter (too dark, reducing the reflected signal). Back to the (map) drawing board! (or as I call it, the kitchen table).


EDIT: Oops, here is an earlier statement:

I had seen it but had foolishly discounted it because of the earlier prohibition on dark mare surfaces.

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