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NASA’s Artemis I launches, carrying ASU hydrogen instrument moonward

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - 3:18pm

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ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
“I've told the team, I'm going to the launch so I can see this thing go into space," Craig Hardgrove told KJZZ News in January 2022. "It's been seven years since I wrote the proposal. And so, if nothing else, I want to see it go into space.”

After months of delays from technical glitches and two hurricanes, NASA’s Artemis I mission has launched, carrying a cargo of small research satellites — including one from ASU — to the moon and beyond.

The Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper, or LunaH, is like a 30-pound toaster oven crammed with everything needed to carry out a satellite mission, from solar panels to iodine-powered ion thrusters.

KJZZ News spoke to principal investigator Craig Hardgrove of ASU in January.

“It's a very small spacecraft that includes all of the parts that you would see on a large spacecraft, just miniaturized,” he said.

Hardgrove explained that the craft is a mix of ready-made components and a scratch-built neutron detector.

“We were able to use designs that had been in place previously and modify them for our application,” he said. “So, we're a blend of a traditional off-the-shelf CubeSat and something that absolutely needs to be customized for deep space.”

That includes a spectrometer that will detect neutrons that have interacted with lunar hydrogen.

Finding such neutrons will provide a map of possible water locations to be explored by future missions.

LunaH Map craft
The LunaH Map craft is a 6U CubeSat about the size of two loaves of bread, not counting the solar sails.

ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration.
LunaH-Map Lead Mechanical Engineer Joe DuBois preps the CubeSat inside the cleanroom of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.
The Artemis 1 mission will send an Orion spacecraft farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown. It will release 10 CubeSats at the positions marked A, B and C.