SET delivers instrument to measure radiation at the Moon’s South Pole

SET delivers instrument to measure radiation at the Moon’s South Pole

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. Space Environment Technologies announced today the upcoming Moon launch of its Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS) Flight Module (FM) 11 instrument to the Moon. Delivery of the ARMAS FM11 to the lander for integration occurred in October 2023. The current launch date is Spring 2024 as part of the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Intuitive Machines Mission 2 (IM-2) that will land on the Shackleton connecting ridge at the lunar south pole.

Caption: Illustration of Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander with a depiction of NASA’s the Polar Resources Ice-Mining Experiment-1 attached to the spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. Credit: Intuitive Machines

The ARMAS FM11 experiment will mark a major inner solar system radiation monitoring milestone. It will be the first time measurements are taken continuously, in real time, from low Earth orbit (LEO), past the Van Allen radiation belts, through deep space, to lunar orbit, utilizing a soft lunar landing, and executing a 10-day mission at the lunar south pole. SET will explore the differences between dose rates within the magnetosphere near space station altitudes and the dynamically changing dose rates in the Van Allen radiation belts. The deep space environment is populated with galactic cosmic ray particles and will differ from the lunar orbit, landing, and south pole location due to partial shielding from the Moon as well as the reflected, or albedo, neutrons from the lunar surface.

Caption: ARMAS FM11 instrument containing a total ionizing dose detector, microprocessors, associated electronics, and temperature sensors. ‘Half-way there, livin’ on a prayer’ used with permission from songwriter Desmond Childs and singer Jon Bon Jovi.

The full mission is expected to take approximately two weeks. IM-2 will be launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the ARMAS FM11 instrument will be located on the NOVA-C lander. The position of FM11 will be about 2 meters above the lunar surface facing outward at 90 degrees from the lunar surface. It will measure anything that ionizes silicon, including neutrons, ions, protons, electrons, and gamma-rays. These data will help understand the effects of space radiation on human tissue, e.g., for astronauts and space tourists, as well as upon avionics.

The FM11 instrument is funded by SET’s internal research and development program with the objective of advancing knowledge of the radiation environment from Earth to the Moon.