NASA's Lunar Trailblazer Mission: A Pioneering Small Satellite for Lunar Water and Lunar Geology

Bethany L. Ehlmann, Rachel L. Klima, Calina C. Seybold, Andrew T. Klesh, Mitchell H. Au, Holly A. Bender, C. Lee Bennett, Diana L. Blaney, Neil Bowles, Simon Calcutt, Djuna Copley-Woods, James L. Dickson, Karim Djotni, Kerri Donaldson Hanna, Christopher S. Edwards, Rory Evans, Emily Felder, Robert Fogg, Robert O. Green, Gary HawkinsMartha House, Samuel Islas, Gregory Lantoine, Sue Linch, Thomas McCaa, Ian McKinley, Trevor F. Merkley, Jasper K. Miura, Carle M. Pieters, Wil Santiago, Elena Scire, Richard Sherwood, Katherine Shirley, Chris Smith, Michael Sondheim, Peter Sullivan, Jon Temples, David R. Thompson, Kristian I. Waldorff, Walton R. Williamson, Tristam J. Warren, Joshua L. Wood, Shannon Zareh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


Selected in 2019 as a NASA SIMPLEx mission, Lunar Trailblazer is in implementation for flight system delivery at the end of 2022. The mission's goal is to understand the form, abundance, and distribution of water on the Moon and the lunar water cycle. Lunar Trailblazer also collects data of candidate landing sites to inform planning for future human and robotic exploration of the Moon and evaluate the potential for in situ resource utilization. Lunar Trailblazer's two science instruments, the High-resolution Volatiles and Minerals Moon Mapper (HVM3) and the Lunar Thermal Mapper (LTM) provide simultaneous high-resolution spectral imaging data to map OH/water, crustal composition, and thermophysical properties from a 100pm 30 km lunar polar orbit. The ∼210-kg flight system deploys from an ESPA Grande and utilizes a ∼1000 m/s Deltamathrm{V} hydrazine chemical propulsion system, similar to that employed by GRAIL. Trailblazing elements include the novel state-of-the-art dataset collected at substantially reduced price point, fully geographically co-registered data products delivered to the Planetary Data System, planetary mission team demographics, Caltech campus mission operations, and student staffing of select mission ops roles. Lunar Trailblazer's pioneering development is providing key lessons learned for future planetary small spacecraft.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781665437608
StatePublished - 2022
Event2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022 - Big Sky, United States
Duration: Mar 5 2022Mar 12 2022

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Conference2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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