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NASA chooses Arizona State University-designed spacecraft for moon mission

An artist's rendering of the Arizona State University-designed LunaH-Map is shown. (Rendering courtety Sean Amidan)

PHOENIX — An Arizona State University spacecraft has been selected by NASA to orbit and study the moon.

The small, shoebox-sized spacecraft, called the LunaH-Map, will enter lunar orbit in 2018. It will focus on the moon’s south pole and take measurements of water believed to be stored up in craters that never see sunlight.

“We just fly very low over the south pole of the moon with our small spacecraft and acquire measurements that have never been made before of these permanently shadowed regions,” Craig Hardgrove, assistant professor with ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, said.

It is the first time a space mission is being designed, developed and operated out of ASU.

Hardgrove said the spacecraft is very low-cost.

“If we can show that this is successful, we’ll be one of the first universities in the world to show that you can make a high-quality scientific measurement with a small, low-cost spacecraft,” he said.

Hardgrove said he hopes this mission uncovers resources that could lead to future exploration of the moon by both robotic spacecrafts and humans.

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