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The Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map) is a cubesat mission designed to orbit the Moon and determine the amount of water ice in the permanently shadowed lunar polar craters. Its primary science objective is to use a miniaturized neutron spectrometer to count epithermal neutrons and map water abundance in the south polar permanently shadowed regions from low altitude (8-25 km) at resolution better than 20 square km. It is scheduled to launch on the Space Launch System Block 1 on the Artemis 1 mission in 2022.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

LunaH-Map is a 6U cubesat, 10 x 20 x 30 cm with a mass of 14 kg. It is powered by a 90 W solar array, built into the side panels and mounted on two wings, and a 56 W-hr lithium-ion battery. Propulsion is provided by an ion engine, a Busek BIT-3 ion thruster, using iodine, stored as a solid, as a propellant. Communication will be via X-band (8.4 GHz) through the Deep Space network. A flight computer mounted inside the bus handles guidance, navigation, and control. The only science instrument is the neutron spectrometer, which will detect epithermal neutrons over the south polar regions.

Mission Profile

LunaH-Map launched as a secondary payload on the Artemis 1 mission on 16 November 2022. After it was deployed from the Space Launch System it started communicating with the ground 5 hours, 33 minutes after launch, and spacecraft commissioning was initiated. However, on 17 November, attempts to ignite the propulsion system failed, and the spacecraft could not achieve its planned lunar orbit. Attempts are being made to correct the problem (possibly due to a partially stuck valve) and put the spacecraft into an alternate trajectory within the next few months that will still allow for a lunar orbit.

The original plan was to use lunar flybys and its ion propulsion to enter lunar orbit, then will shape the orbit to achieve its nominal 4.76-hour elliptical polar orbit with an apolune altitude of 3150 km and a perilune of 8-25 km. Communication and downlink will take place every 3-5 days. The mission is scheduled to last a minimum of two months making neutron measurements. At end of mission, when the propellant runs out, it will be targeted for a lunar impact.

LunaH-Map was selected as a SIMPLEx (Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration) opportunity. SIMPLEx missions are under 180 kg in mass and launch as secondary payloads with other NASA spacecraft. For more information on LunaH-Map, see:


Image credit: Arizona State University

Alternate Names

  • 57685
  • LunaHMap
  • Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2022-11-16
Launch Vehicle: SLS Block 1 Crew
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 14 kg

Funding Agency

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Craig HardgroveMission Principal InvestigatorArizona State
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