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Lunar Flashlight



Lunar Flashlight is a modified 6U CubeSat mission designed to go into a polar orbit around the Moon and search for water in the shadowed polar regions. The science objective of the mission is to find locations on the lunar surface where water ice is present at concentrations of 0.5 weight percent or more with an optimal mapping resolution of 1 to 2 km. Initially planned as a secondary satellite on the first Artemis mission, launch plans are currently uncertain.

The spacecraft has a mass of 14 kg and is 11.62 x 23.94 x 36.6 cm in size. A green monopropellant (AF-M315E) propulsion system with four thrusters can provide over 3000 N-s of total impulse for orbit insertion and other maneuvers. Communications are via the Iris radio system. It carries a multiband reflectometer, consisting of an optical receiver aligned with four shortwave infrared (SWIR) lasers. Each laser emits at a different frequency in the SWIR spectrum (1.064, 1.495, 1.85, and 1.99 microns). The optical receiver with a field of view of 20 mrad feeds the returns into an onboard indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) spectrometer that measures surface reflection and composition.

Launch (details still TBD) will be followed by placement into lunar orbit. The spacecraft will make observations from an elliptical near-rectilinear polar orbit, concentrating on permanently shadowed regions from altitudes of 12.6 to 52.4 km. The nominal mission is 2 months.

Image credit: NASA-JPL-CalTech

Alternate Names

    Facts in Brief

    Launch Date: 
    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. John D BakerProject ManagerNASA Jet Propulsion
    Dr. Calina SeyboldProject ManagerNASA Jet Propulsion
    Dr. Barbara CohenMission Principal InvestigatorNASA Goddard Space Flight
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