TU Delft Aims for Lunar Exploration with Moonshot Program

News - 31 July 2023

The Delft Space Institute is taking significant steps towards lunar exploration by investing 200K Euros into the Moonshot program; an initiative that seeks to advance science and technology solutions for lunar surface missions. Researchers and students from diverse faculties will join forces to pursue this shared goal.

The global interest in lunar exploration is growing, evident from India's recent launch of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, and the US-led Artemis accords gaining 27 signatory countries. By launching the Moonshot program, TU Delft gathers some of its brightest researchers to tackle this challenge and position the Netherlands as a (key) player in lunar exploration. The Moonshot program, led by Assistant Professor Dr. Raj Thilak Rajan, presently comprises of four work packages each of which address a unique use case for lunar scientific exploration.

image: ATG Europe

Lunar payloads

The project is set to start in July 2023, aiming to enhance the technology readiness levels of four Lunar payloads. These payloads draw from the expertise of TU Delft’s researchers from various faculties, including LOUPE (Lunar Observatory for Unresolved Polarimetry of Earth), Radiation sensing, Autonomous sensing, and Relative Position Navigation and Timing (PNT) of swarms. The respective work packages are under the guidance of Dr. Daphne Stam, Dr. Alessandra Meniccuci, Dr. Fabio Sebastiano, and Dr. Raj Thilak Rajan.

Multiple faculties

The project leverages the research diversity within TU Delft and aims to bring together multiple faculties in its endeavor to literally aim for the Moon. “The relevance of the Moonshot program is that it shows the incredible power of collaboration between students from different faculties. It inspires both faculty and students to pursue goals for which the sky is not the limit. The Faculty of Aerospace Engineering is proud to support this endeavor”, stated Henri Werij, Dean of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft.

First Dutch rover on the moon

The scientific payloads developed through the Moonshot program may find their way aboard the Lunar Zebro. The Zebro is a miniature swarm rover, developed in-house at TU Delft, with the mission of becoming the first Dutch and European rover on the Moon. Initially, the Lunar Zebro will focus on mapping the Moon's radiation environment, a crucial field of study in the context of the global race to put humans back on to the Moon. In the future, these Zebros will organize into a swarm and be utilized for multiple use cases.

Relevant links

Lunar Zebro
Moonshot program