Hundreds of 5 grams LunaSats powered by e-peas’ solar Ambient Energy Manager – AEM10941 – are going to the Moon to conduct local and distributed science missions.
About the project
The name of the project is Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE). The organization overseeing the GLEE mission is NASA’s Colorado Space Grant Consortium (COSGC) which is part of NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, a program within NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement.
Therefore, The GLEE mission is a student-led project composed of primarily post-secondary undergraduate students participating in the NASA Colorado Space Grant (Space Grant) program at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU).
Inspired by NASA’s Apollo Moon landings over 50 years ago, GLEE is meant to be a catalyst for a new generation of space missions and explorers.
This scientific and technological mission to the Moon will deploy hundreds of LunaSats to the lunar surface to conduct local and distributed science missions.
This project serves both as a tech demo and a STEM outreach mission. The LunaSats are made with commercial off the shelf components, and operate using Arduino which makes them affordable and easy for anyone to learn to use. This would be something new to Lunar Science, and it will be demonstrating the capabilities of these accessible “chip-sats” to do lunar science.
What is LunaSat?
LunaSats are tiny spacecraft [roughly the size of a post-it note 5cm x 5cm x 3.7mm] with an integrated sensor suite that is being programmed by teams of students all over the world for a mission of their own design. These tiny spacecrafts will collect temperature, magnetic field, and inertial measurements on the surface of the moon.
LunaSats are unique because they are more affordable and easier to use than any other lunar mission and are available for people to participate in across the globe, which could make science beyond earth more accessible in the future! They are purposefully designed using Arduino to enable access by people at varying levels (even beginners) and to engage students from around the world in a meaningful way.
The role of e-peas’ PMIC in the project
Considering that the Moon is not a frequently visited place, battery maintenance is not an option. In order for LunaSats to function on the surface of the moon, they must have their own power source and power management system. Each LunaSat is equipped with a solar panel and e-peas’ AEM10941. AEM10941 is the circuit that will utilize the power provided by the solar panel while on the Lunar surface. Without a dedicated Power Management IC to track the maximum power point and regulate the power, all of the different components would not be able to use the electricity provided by the solar panel due to the fluctuations of energy that the solar panel outputs.
Based on the ongoing tests, the LunaSats can successfully use solar cells and e-peas’ AEM10941 to power all systems. The LunaSats are capable of measuring their own temperature, the temperature of their surroundings even in a vacuum, acceleration/force, magnetic fields, and dielectric constants of some materials it comes in contact with.
So, when are we flying?
Depending on what carrier will be found to bring LunaSats to the Moon, they will most probably land there in 2024.
Learn more about the project:
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