The Other Side of the Moon is becoming increasingly popular lately as a Pink Floyd album. Various missions are planned to visit the previously overlooked side opposite Earth. Recently, NASA announced several more, including two landers that will measure properties of the interior of the moon.
A mission known as the Lunar Interior Temperature and Materials Suite (LITMS) is sponsored by the Southwest Research Institute and will deploy two specialized instruments on the other side of the moon in the Schrödinger Basin – LISTER or the Lunar Instrumentation for Thermal Exploration with Rapidity and LMS or the Lunar Magnetotelluric Sounder.
UT video about the other side of the moon.
LISTER was developed by Texas Tech University and uses a drill bit to measure the underground heat flux by drilling a hole 3 m in the surface of the moon. LMS, on the other hand, will focus on monitoring the electromagnetic spectrum and attempting to map the natural magnetic and electric fields of the moon.
LITMS itself combines these two measurement methods in order to try to map the thermal and physical properties of the monitored material. With separate thermal and electrical measurements, the researchers could distinguish between some of these material properties, such as the thermal and electrical conductivity of the lunar material.
Presentation on LISTER
Credit – Seiichi Nagihara, Texas Tech University
But LITMS will not be alone in its efforts. A similar package starts on the near side of the moon in Mare Crisium and is expected to arrive about a year before LITMS itself. Nor will it be the only resident in the Schrödinger Basin, where another NASA mission will join him around two sensitive seismometers. Similar to the LISTER / LMS synergy, the seismometer data will also help create an interior image of the lunar surface that LITMS is trying to build.
These are just some of the first steps in NASA’s Commercial Payload Launch Services program, which aims to use commercial rocket launches to bring payloads to the moon. Since these launches only need to travel to our closest neighbor, things like launch windows are less of a concern in project development schedules. LITMS is on track for a 2024 take-off and landing date that will provide more data on the interior of the moon and potentially inspire a Pink Floyd reunion tour.
Presentation on LMS
Credit – Bob Grimm, SwRI
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Image of Schrödinger’s basin on the other side of the moon, where the new missions will land
Credit – LPI / USRA / NASA