NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative aims to deliver science and technology to the Moon to advance our capabilities in lunar exploration. Shortly after launch, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander experienced a failure in the propulsion system, causing a critical loss of propellent. Astrobotic announced due to the failure, Peregrine will not achieve a soft lunar landing for this mission. Efforts by the Astrobotic team have recovered the spacecraft and allowed Peregrine to remain operationally stable collecting data about the interplanetary environment. All NASA payloads that can power on have received power and are effectively gathering data, although interpreting the results will require some time.
Both Astrobotic and NASA are taking advantage of this flight time by extending the science of Peregrine’s Mission One into cislunar space. NASA payloads including, NSS (Neutron Spectrometer System), LETS (Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer), PITMS (Peregrine Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer), and NIRVSS (Near Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System) have successfully powered on while the spacecraft has been operationally stable. Since the LRA (Laser Retroreflector Array) instrument is a passive experiment that can only be conducted on the lunar surface, it cannot conduct any operations in transit.
A novel NASA space technology guidance and navigation sensor, which Astrobotic incorporated as a Peregrine lander component, NDL (Navigation Doppler Lidar), has also been successfully powered on.
“Measurements and operations of the NASA-provided science instruments on board will provide valuable experience, technical knowledge, and scientific data to future CLPS lunar deliveries,” said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Some of the NASA provided payloads aboard Peregrine were already scheduled for future lunar flights. The team is taking this opportunity to collect as much science data as possible and to further characterize the performance and functionality of the science instruments while the spacecraft follows its current trajectory. Astrobotic is striving to extend Peregrine’s mission, allowing for additional data collection for NASA’s and other customers’ payloads.
Two of the payloads, NSS and LETS, are making measurements of the radiation environment in interplanetary space around the Earth and the Moon. The two instruments are measuring different components of the radiation spectrum, which provide complementary insights into the galactic cosmic ray activity and space weather resulting from solar activity. This data helps characterize the interplanetary radiation environment for humans and electronics.
Additional updates will be shared as they become available.