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CubeSat built at Morehead State passes testing for a mission to the moon

Lunar IceCube, a small satellite built at Morehead State University's Space Science Center, has passed environmental testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, putting the device one step closer to the moon.   

Students and space systems engineering faculty at MSU designed and built the Lunar IceCube, which will fly aboard the upcoming Artemis I mission to the moon as a secondary payload to investigate the amount and distribution of water ice on the moon. The mission's goal is to collect data to explore the feasibility of establishing a sustained human presence on the moon. Scientists hope doing so will allow for human exploration of Mars and other bodies in the solar system.   

Lunar IceCube's testing included a thermal vacuum, which replicates the vacuum of space and exposes the spacecraft to extreme hot and cold temperatures. Engineers also conducted instrument testing and calibration for the Broadband InfraRed Compact High-Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES), which will help map the distribution and dynamics of water on the moon's surface.  

Lunar IceCube will come home to MSU for additional testing, then will be sent to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration into the Artemis I mission.   

"This is a major milestone for this seven-year, $24 million mission," said Dr. Ben Malphrus, executive director of MSU's Space Science Center and professor of space science. "We have a few more hurdles: pre-ship review, flight readiness review, delivery to NASA KSC and operational readiness review. It will be a busy summer, but this is a major milestone."   

For more information about Lunar IceCube and the Artemis I mission, visit https://go.nasa.gov/3wgwJVO.   

To explore programs in MSU's Department of Physics, Earth Science and Space Systems Engineering, visit www.moreheadstate.edu/phes, email phes@moreheadstate.edu or call 606-783-2381. 

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Photo Captions:
  • Left to right, Dr. Elijah Jensen, space systems engineer, and Christo Smith, a graduate student from Lexington in the space systems engineering graduate program, helped build the Lunar IceCube, which will launch as part of the Artemis I mission to the moon later this year.  
  • Left to right, Space Systems Engineer Dr. Elijah Jensen, Lead Lunar IceCube Engineer Nathan Fite and Graduate Student Christo Smith installed a component of the satellite, which will examine the lunar surface to search for evidence of water.  
  • The Lunar IceCube satellite, designed and built at MSU, will launch as part of the Artemis I moon mission later this year.  
  • Lunar IceCube will help the Artemis I mission to collect data to explore the feasibility of establishing a sustained human presence on the moon. The mission is scheduled to launch Monday, Nov. 22.