Lunar polar volatiles mission: Canadian science definition team opportunity

1. Overview

This solicitation is anticipated to result in the selection of four scientists to be coordinated by a Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Mission Scientist, who will comprise the Canadian Science Definition Team (SDT) for a low cost Lunar Polar Volatile Mission. This solicitation will result in no funding awards, however travel to meetings will be supported as needed.

Should a lunar polar volatiles mission be approved in the future, the CSA anticipates a competitive request for proposals for Participating Scientist awards. Membership of the SDT will not preclude eligibility to respond to such a Participating Scientists request for proposals.

1.1 Introduction

Under the Exploration Core program, the CSA has developed terrestrial prototypes of rovers, a drill, avionics, advanced vision systems and other payloads. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has expressed interest in having the CSA contribute the Drill and Rover to a potential low-cost lunar mission carrying the RESOLVE (Regolith & Environment Science, and Oxygen & Lunar Volatile Extraction) payload, which would be expected to land in an area of limited solar illumination where volatiles may be trapped in the sub-surface. RESOLVE objectives, investigations and instruments are described in detail in reference documents (RD-1:3)

The purpose of this SDT is to define the Canadian scientific contributions to a potential RESOLVE mission. The SDT will interact with Contractors selected under a Request for Proposals for an Exploration Core Concept Study for a Lunar ISRU platform. It is anticipated that there will be two Contractors undertaking parallel concept studies. SDT members will have access to Contractor proposals and deliverables under the terms of non-disclosure agreements.

Specifically, the SDT will support the development of contractor concepts for imaging systems on the rover, derive requirements for regolith properties experiments with the rover and drill itself, and taking into consideration public participation activities. The SDT will, in addition, investigate collaborations with the US using the existing RESOLVE payload.

1.2 RESOLVE overview

Scientists and engineers have been investigating the presence of resources in the lunar regolith for many years. Since 1994, a number of missions to the Moon have indentified the presence of hydrogen in the lunar regolith at the poles. In light of these findings, the next logical step and primary goal of the lunar ISRU mission is to verify the presence of water and other volatiles on the Moon by direct, ground truth measurements of the regolith in and around permanently shadowed regions.

The integrated RESOLVE payload consists of the following instruments: Neutron Spectrometer, Near InfraRed Spectrometer, Drill Subsystem, Oven Subsystem, and, Lunar Advanced Volatile Analysis (LAVA) subsystem.

The RESOLVE mission objectives are to use this payload to:

  • Verify the existence of and characterize the constituents and distribution of water and other volatiles in lunar polar surface materials
    • Map the surface distribution of hydrogen rich materials (Neutron Spectrometer, Near-IR Spectrometer)
    • Extract core sample from selected sites (Drill Subsystem)
      • to a depth of 1m with minimal loss of volatiles
    • Heat multiple samples from each core to drive off volatiles for analysis (OVEN Subsystem)
    • Determine the constituents and quantities of the volatiles extracted (LAVA Subsystem)
      • Hope to find and quantify H2, He, CO, CO2, CH4, H2O, N2, NH3, H2S, SO2
      • Survive limited exposure to HF, HCl, and Hg
  • Demonstrate the ISRU Hydrogen Reduction Process to extract oxygen from lunar regolith
    • Heat sample to reaction temperature (OVEN Subsystem)
    • Flow H2 through regolith to extract oxygen in the form of water (OVEN Subsystem)
    • Capture, quantify, and display the water generated (LAVA Subsystem)

A RESOLVE design reference mission is being developed for a total lunar surface duration of 6-12 (Earth) days with periods in sun and in shadow. This design reference mission will be refined.

Landing site selection criteria include

  1. the presence of sub-surface volatiles
  2. direct to earth communications
  3. traversable terrain
  4. daylight illumination.

Cabeus Crater is being considered as one possible location.

1.3 Reference documents

Table 1: Reference documents describing the RESOLVE mission
Reference documents No. Document Number Document Title Date
RD-1. 2583 RESOLVE Mission Architecture For Lunar Resources Prospecting and Utilization
43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
RD-2. N3034 RESOLVE: real-time science operations to support a lunar polar volatiles rover mission.
Annual Meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group
RD-3. 3046 RESOLVE Lunar Ice/Volatile Payload Development and Field Test Status
Annual Meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group

2. SDT terms of reference

2.1 Membership

  • CSA Mission Scientist
  • Canadian scientists selected as a result of this call

2.2 Mandate

  • Provide review of the Lunar ISRU concept studies
  • Define, within engineering, mass, mission duration, lunar environment and cost constraints:
    1. Imaging investigations and science requirements
    2. Geotechnical investigations with the rover/drill
    3. Concepts for public participation
  • Provide recommendations to accommodate 1, 2, 3 above in the Canadian Lunar ISRU concepts
  • Develop recommendations as input to CSA program definition (this input will be shared with NASA)
    1. A concept for US-Canadian science team membership and rules of the road
    2. Recommendations for roles for Canadians in investigations using the US RESOLVE payload
    3. Recommendations for roles for US scientists in Canadian investigations
    4. Landing site considerations and recommendations
    5. Recommendations for analogue activities associated with science or public participation
  • Provide advice to the CSA regarding benefits to Canada related to scientific participation in this potential mission, and opportunities for Capacity Development.

2.3 Methodology and meetings

A two-day workshop will be held to develop ideas. The output from this workshop will be an initial report covering aspects 1 and 2 of the mandate above. Following this workshop, one hour telecons will be held approximately every two weeks excluding holidays until June 2013. Additional ad hoc face-to-face meetings may be held.

2.4 Deliverables

The CSA mission scientist will co-ordinate outputs from the SDT, and will produce an initial report from the workshop, and a final report with recommendations in June 2013.

3. Expressions of interest

Scientists interested in participating in the SDT must provide:

  • a CV, or Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) 100 form
  • a completed expression of interest form (Appendix A)

If selected, the expression of interest will be shared with other members of the SDT in advance of the two day workshop.

Please send the above documents in PDF format by email to the following person:

Victoria Hipkin
Senior Program Scientist, Planetary Exploration
Exploration Development
Canadian Space Agency
6767 Route de l'Aéroport
Saint-Hubert, Québec
J3Y 8Y9
Telephone: 450-926-6503

The submission deadline for the Expression of Interest is December 21, 2012.

4. Eligibility

Scientists applying to participate in the SDT must be employed by a Canadian academic or not-for-profit organization.

5. Selection process

Members of the SDT will be selected according to the following factors:

  • Scientific merit
    • Merit of idea
    • Relevance to mission and priority areas
  • Expertise
    • Experience in proposed area of research
    • Understanding of mission requirements

6. Summary of key information

Anticipated number of selections 4
Due date for Expressions of Interests December 21, 2012
Selection of SDT January 2, 2013
Duration of SDT activity Until June 2013
2-day Kickoff Workshop January 2013

Appendix A: Template for expression of interest form

Expression of Interest: Lunar Polar Volatile Mission
Email address: Phone number:
Proposed science investigation idea (suggested page limit: 1-2 pages at 10pt)
Describe objectives, methodology, and, data and operations needs (as relevant)
Relevance of idea to mission objectives and priority areas: (1) Imaging investigations and science requirements (2) Geotechnical investigations with the rover/drill (3) Investigations using the US RESOLVE payload, and/or (4) Landing site selection activities (suggested page limit: 1 page at 10pt)
Describe relevance of the idea to the mission, and to one or more of the priority areas listed.