Missions & Hardware

Lunar Dust Detector Instrument Opportunity Added to SALMON AO

By Keith Cowing
July 23, 2008

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity Notice (SALMON), is intended to provide opportunities for science and technology investigations on space flight missions that advance the high priority science, technology, and exploration objectives of NASA’s four Mission Directorates. This five-year omnibus Announcement of Opportunity (AO) incorporates Program Element Appendices (PEAs) for general Mission of Opportunity (MO) proposal opportunities as well as focused proposal opportunities for specific flight opportunities.

A new PEA will be added to the AO presenting a Focused Opportunity for an in-situ lunar dust detector instrument to be placed on the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission. The LADEE mission is a small focused mission intended to explore the tenuous lunar atmosphere and dust environment before that environment is altered by extended human activity on the Moon. LADEE is planned to carry a science payload of three instruments; a neutral mass spectrometer, an Ultraviolet-Visible spectrometer, and an in-situ dust detector. This SALMON PEA seeks proposals only for the in-situ dust instrument.

NASA plans to solicit an instrument capable of directly detecting dust grains at the roughly 50 km expected LADEE orbit. It is expected that the lunar surface-lofted dust component will consist of sub-micron grains traveling at relatively slow speeds. The density of dust at 50 km is expected to be on the order of 10-4/cc.

The LADEE mission can accommodate an in-situ dust instrument with the following limitations:

  • Total instrument mass: 3 kg + reserve appropriate for its level of maturity;
  • Power provided: 28 Volts unregulated;
  • Continuous power: 5 W (higher peak power may be available at times);
  • Continuous science data rate: 1 kbps (on-board data storage available);
  • Pointing capability of spacecraft: 3-axis stabilized within 5 degrees; and
  • Pointing knowledge provided by spacecraft: 1 degree.

NASA is targeting an allocation of $5M for this instrument.

NASA expects this PEA will be released along with the final version of the SALMON AO no later than August 2008 (the SALMON draft AO can be viewed at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/, select “Solicitations,” select “Closed Solicitations,” select “SALMON DRAFT”). Further information about the LADEE mission and anticipated payload will be made available in the SALMON reference library at http://salmon.larc.nasa.gov/.

Proposals for this PEA will be due 60 to 90 days from the date of release.

This PEA and the SALMON AO are in the process of being formally approved by NASA. However, by sending this announcement to prospective investigators at this time (prior to release), NASA is under no obligation to issue the AO and solicit proposals. Any costs incurred by prospective investigators in preparing submissions in response to this announcement are incurred completely at the submitter’s own risk.

Further information will be posted at http://salmon.larc.nasa.gov/ as it becomes available. Questions may be addressed to Dr. Sarah Noble, Planetary Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, DC 20546; Tel.: (202) 358-3725; Email: [email protected]. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

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