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Compelling Planetary Science Missions: Lunar Polar Volatiles Explorer

13 Dec 2010, 12:29 UTC
Compelling Planetary Science Missions: Lunar Polar Volatiles Explorer
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See Part 1: Compelling Planetary Science Missions in this series of posts. My first selection for the most compelling planetary science mission on the Decadal Survey list is the Lunar Polar Volatiles Explorer (LPVE). From the Executive Summary:The Lunar Polar Volatiles Explorer concept involves placing a lander and rover (with an instrument payload) in a permanently sun-shadowed lunar polar crater. The rover will carry a suite of science instruments to investigate the location, composition, and state of volatiles. While previous orbital missions have provided data that support the possibility of water ice deposits existing in the polar region, this LPVE concept seeks to understand the nature of those volatiles by direct in-situ measurement. A prospecting strategy is employed to enable lateral and vertical sampling only where higher hydrogen concentrations are detected, thus eliminating the criticality of statistically significant numbers and distributions of samples required by stochastic approaches.As with most or all of the Decadal Survey mission concepts, there are more and less capable variants of this mission. For example, some instruments that are in more capable variants could be dropped for a more affordable but less capable mission, and the rover power system could be based on batteries or ASRGs. ...

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