NASA is headed for the moon next week, and it’s bringing lots of weird stuff

NASA is headed for the moon next week, and it’s bringing lots of weird stuff

technology By Jan 04, 2024 No Comments

nasa’s Unusual Lunar Mission: What to Expect

A rocket stocked with scientific instruments, technological gadgets, and… bitcoin (literally) is about to head for the moon’s surface. United Launch Alliance ’s NASA-funded Vulcan centaur is slated to lift off in the early hours of January 8 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to begin its nearly two-month journey.

Expedition Overview

After traveling roughly 238,900 miles, the nearly 2,829-pound Peregrin lander, built by private space company astrobotic, should arrive at the Gruithuisen Domes within the moon’s Sinus Viscositatis region. If successful, it will mark the first US landing on Earth’s satellite since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

The Payload

Over 20 various payloads from six countries will be aboard the Peregrin lander, some meant for research, with others purely symbolic gestures ahead of Artemis astronauts’ planned touchdown later this decade.

Scientific Advancements

NASA intends to utilize a number of new tools and analysis tech aboard the lander, including a Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System (NIRVSS) and Neutron Spectrometer System (NSS) meant for identifying substances such as water on the lunar surface. A Laser Retro-Reflector Array (LRA) will also provide incredibly precise distance measurements between the moon and earth.

Advancing Lunar Exploration

The Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer (LETS) will assess lunar surface radiation to advance future astronauts’ safety. Germany’s M-42 radiation detector will analyze similar potential mission dangers, as Mexico’s Colmena robot swarm will deploy and assemble to form a solar panel.

Groundbreaking Additions

Alongside not to be outdone, carnegie mellon University’s tiny, student-built Iris Lunar rover could become the first US robot upon the moon if all goes as planned. In addition, the university is also sending off a MoonArk lightweight time capsule containing poems, music, nano-scale objects, Earth samples, and images.

The Unusual Cargo

Despite the industry’s many criticisms, a portion of Vulcan’s inventory will also center on cryptocurrency—namely, Bitcoin. Thanks to BitMex and Bitcoin Magazine, a physical Bitcoin engraved with a private encryption key will be deposited on the lunar surface for “future explorers” to recover, along with a few other shiny crypto objects.

A Tribute to the Past

Next week’s launch also includes the literal remnants of its past. Two memorial space companies, Celestis and Elysium Space, will also have cargo aboard the Vulcan rocket: DNA from legendary science fiction author arthur C. Clarke, as well as the trace cremated ashes of multiple original Star Trek actors and show creator, Gene Roddenberry.


Indeed, the upcoming NASA mission to the moon is not only a step forward in scientific exploration but also a tribute to both human achievement and popular culture. As the Peregrin lander’s scheduled lunar arrival approaches, the anticipation for the discoveries and symbolic gestures it carries grows in the hearts of people worldwide.

Source: popsci

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