The University of Adelaide

04/08/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/07/2024 22:31

University aboard NASA’s search for lunar volatiles

NASA has announced the selection of three new lunar surface science experiments as part of its Artemis III mission, including the Lunar Dielectric Analyzer, which will search for lunar ice and other volatiles with input from the University of Adelaide's Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources (ATCSR).

Photo credit: Nicolas Thomas

"We are excited to be directly involved in NASA's quest to establish a long-term presence on the Moon," said Associate Professor John Culton, Director of the ATCSR.

"The Lunar Dielectric Analyzer (LDA) will measure the regolith's ability to propagate an electric field, which is a key parameter in the search for lunar volatiles, especially ice."

This LDA experiment will gather essential information about the structure of the Moon's subsurface, monitor dielectric changes caused by the changing angle of the Sun as the Moon rotates, and look for possible frost formation or ice deposits.

Led by the University of Tokyo's Professor Hirdy Miyamoto who is also Adjunct Professor at ATCSR, the LDA project is funded by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The ATCSR is focused on identifying solutions and developing technologies supporting sustainable, self-sufficient resource exploration, extraction, processing and utilisation in extreme environments, on and off planet Earth.

"Experiments conducted as part of Artemis III will collect valuable scientific data about the lunar environment, the lunar interior, and how to sustain a long-duration human presence on the Moon," said Associate Professor Culton.

"This will help prepare NASA to 'live off the land' as its astronauts establish a permanent presence on the Moon, and later explore Mars."

Artemis III, the first mission to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon in more than 50 years, will explore the south polar region of the Moon, within 6 degrees of latitude from the South Pole.

In addition to the LDA, Artemis III will also deliver the Lunar Environment Monitoring Station, a compact, autonomous seismometer suite designed to carry out continuous, long-term monitoring of the seismic environment, namely ground motion from moonquakes, in the lunar south polar region; and the Lunar Effects on Agricultural Flora (LEAF) instrument.

LEAF will investigate the lunar surface environment's effects on space crops, and also involves researchers from the University of Adelaide, through the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plants for Space, headquartered at the University's Waite campus.

"It's a fantastic honour and opportunity for the University of Adelaide to be involved in two out of the three selected experiments, all of which will be carried out on the lunar surface by the Artemis III astronauts," Associate Professor Culton said.

Through its contribution to the Artemis campaign, the University of Adelaide will assist NASA in establishing long-term exploration for scientific discovery and preparation for human missions to Mars for the benefit of all.

Media Contact:
Associate Professor John Culton,Director, Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources, School of Architecture and Civil Engineering, University of Adelaide. Phone: +61 0466 859 195 Email:[email protected]

Johnny von Einem,Media Coordinator, The University of Adelaide. Mobile:+61 0430 476 300 Email:[email protected]