Professor Ralf Jaumann, from the German aerospace centre DLR, said, "The Lunar Exploration Orbiter will be a unique mission. It will consist of two spacecraft flying in formation and taking simultaneous measurements, which will give us the first three-dimensional view of the Moon's magnetic and gravitation field.
It will also give us the first opportunity to study these fields on the far site of the Moon. In addition, LEO will give us a very detailed picture of the lunar surface and also insight into the structure of the lunar regolith, layers of crushed rocks that extend about 100 metres beneath the lunar surface, and the boundary with the bed-rock beneath."
The main satellite, which will weigh about 700 kilograms, is paired with a small sub-satellite, which weighs about 150 kilograms and will carry duplicates of the experiments to measure the lunar gravitational and magnetic fields. At present, feasibility studies for construction of the satellite and sub-satellite are being carried out by the German industry. Following the presentation of their results in October, a final, costed mission proposal will be presented to the German government.
The main satellite will carry a microwave radar that will give provide a new 'view' beneath the lunar surface up to a depth of a few hundred metres. At maximum depths the radar will be able to resolve structures two metres across and within the top two metres it will show the formation of the regolith on a millimetre scale. Professor Jaumann said, "The the layering in the lunar regolith is caused by impacts, which scatter material across the Moon's surface. Our radar experiment will reveal the distribution of rocks and particles in minute detail near the surface and will allow us to reveal the history of impacts on the Moon as we probe to increasing depths."
LEO will also carry remote sensing instruments that will create data for high resolution maps of the entire lunar surface in stereo and multispectral bands. The mission is planned to last four years, which means that there will be opportunities to create multiple stereo views of the Moon. This long duration also means that LEO can also study identify new impacts on the surface, both by looking for new fresh craters and detecting impact events and dust directly with the flash detection camera, SPOSH. Professor Jaumann said, "Altogether, the Lunar Exploration Orbiter concept is technologically challenging but feasible."
With LEO, the team hopes to further establish Germany as a key player among space-faring nations and demonstrate expertise and technological know-how "Made in Germany".
"With its high profile, LEO should encourage the growing acceptance of space exploration in Germany and will capture the imagination of the general public," said Professor Jaumann.
During the European Planetary Science Congress the scientific concept of LEO and some fundamental questions regarding the Moon will also be outlined in a public lecture in Potsdam, entitled "To the Moon and beyond: German and European perspectives in space research". The lecture will take place on Tuesday 21st August at 19:30 and will be given by Professor Tilman Spohn, a geophysicist and director of DLR's Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin.
"The LEO mission fits well in the global initiatives for lunar exploration. Our closest celestial neighbour, the Moon has been scientifically neglected since the Apollo times. But there's so much to learn about the first eons of the solar system and the evolution of the Earth itself," said Professor Spohn.
Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy