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Lunar Science with affordable small spacecraft technologies : MoonLITE & Moonraker.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Yang Gao
  • Andy Phipps
  • Mark Taylor
  • Ian A. Crawford
  • Andrew J. Ball
  • Lionel Wilson
  • Dave Parker
  • Martin Sweeting
  • Alex da Silva Curiel
  • Phil Davies
  • Adam Baker
  • W. Thomas Pike
  • Alan Smith
  • Rob Gowen
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2008
<mark>Journal</mark>Planetary and Space Science
Number of pages10
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Returning to the Moon has been advocated by a large number of international planetary scientists in order to answer several key scientific questions. The UK also has an active lunar science community keen to support (robotic) lunar exploration missions. However, for several years these interests have been eclipsed by the drive to Mars. Recently there is a renewed global interest in the Moon demonstrated by the Vision for Space Exploration in the USA, the evolving Global Exploration Partnership, and new lunar missions from Europe, Japan, China, India and the USA. The ESA Aurora programme may also broaden its focus to embrace the Moon as well as Mars—realizing that the risks associated with many of the major technical challenges that are faced by Mars missions could be reduced by relatively inexpensive and timely lunar technology tests. Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) and Surrey Space Centre (SSC) have been preparing a ‘smallsat’ approach [Sweeting, M.N., Underwood, C.I., 2003. Small-satellite engineering and applications. In: Fortescue, P., Stark, J., Swinerd, G., (Eds.), Spacecraft Systems Engineering, third edition. Wiley, New York, pp. 581–612] to achieving a low-cost lunar mission for more than a decade—including various activities, such as the earlier LunarSat study funded by ESA and a current hardware contribution to the Chandrayaan-1 mission. With the recent successes in GIOVE-A, TOPSAT and BEIJING-1,1 alongside participation in Aurora and Chandrayaan-1, Surrey have developed capabilities for providing affordable engineering solutions to space exploration. Recently, SSTL/SSC was funded by the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) (now subsumed into the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council) to undertake a study on low-cost lunar mission concepts that could address key scientific questions. This paper presents some major results from this study [Phipps and Gao, 2006. Lunar mission options study. UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council Report Reference No. 118537, pp. 1–104] and provides preliminary definitions of two mission proposals.