The Moon has been vastly explored by mankind for several decades. Despite the progress, it is believed that its geography has not fully mapped. That is the potential goal of the new Lunar Trailblazer built by NASA. One of its primary functions will be to determine the amount of water on the Moon that could be hidden inside football-sized craters on the surface. This massive venture was an idea in partnership with NASA and Caltech University; its construction began in early 2019. The images that are taken will be the highest resolution possible. Now in the approval process, Trailblazers flight systems are expected to be delivered in October 2022. Altogether the satellite will measure 3.5 m in length upon full deployment of its onboard solar panels.
The most significant part of this endeavor is to find out if there is water on the Moon and why. Temperatures on the Moon can be up to 260°F in sunlight and can drop to -280°F; this could lead to ice pockets and formations around the Moon’s surface. Trailblazer’s design team includes some brilliant scientists from Lockheed Martin that will test the satellite’s design and instrument functionality. They are also joined by scientists at Oxford University who will be designing the instruments which enable Trailblazer to do the necessary water studies on the Moon. Some of the questions about the study needing to be answered are the following: Is there water found in rock? Does the temperature change of water happen during the day-night cycle? Most importantly, does water exist in the shadow covered areas of the Moon? If all goes well, the mission is planned to launch in 2025.
Full mapping of the Moon would allow scientists to understand its geological makeup, surface area, water, and rock formations. Some of the events in the timetable of the lunar Trailblazer started in 2018 when it was announced as a candidate for NASA’s Planetary Small Satellites program. Last year Trailblazer was selected for the upcoming mission; beyond this, no further information is available at this time. The previously mentioned high-resolution images taken by the satellite will give scientists a more real-time feel of what is being dealt with on the Moon surface.
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