The LUMIO mission: a cube sat watches meteoroid impacts on the far side of the Moon
This week, space engineering researcher Angelo Cervone gave a keynote presentation at this year’s (online) International Astronautical Congress. His topic: the LUMIO Mission. This mission, one of the two winning concepts of the ESA SysNova Lunar CubeSats for Exploration challenge, aims to send a cube sat mission to the far side of the Moon to watch the impacts of meteoroids. The IAC presentation is based on a scientific paper written by Cervone, his colleagues in the Space Engineering department Alessandra Menicucci and Stefano Speretta, and the other members of the LUMIO consortium, which includes researchers from Politecnico di Milano and Leonardo in Italy, ISIS-space in the Netherlands, and S&T in Norway.
How it works
The Earth and the Moon are constantly bombarded by meteoroids of different size and impact speed. It is of course possible to observe the Moon from Earth, but those observations are not ideal because of, for example, the weather, geometric conditions, background noise, and light pollution. Observations of impacts at the far side of the Moon (which we can’t see anyway from Earth) can provide many new insights, also for (the danger of) impacts on Earth.
The Lunar Meteoroid Impact Observer (LUMIO), one of the two winning concepts of the ESA SysNova Lunar CubeSats for Exploration competition, is a mission consisting of small satellites - cube sats - that will observe, quantify and characterise micro-meteoroid impacts on the back of the Moon from an orbit in space. The recordings will be made using the LUMIO-Cam, a custom-designed optical instrument capable of detecting flashes of light in the visible spectrum.