Lunar Trailblazer Lunar Trailblazer


Lunar Trailblazer, selected in June 2019 as one of NASA's first planetary science small satellite missions, is designed to produce the best maps of water on the Moon. Led by Caltech and managed by JPL, a Lockheed Martin smallsat will carry the JPL High-resolution Volatiles and Minerals Moon Mapper (HVM3) shortwave infrared imaging spectrometer and the UK-contributed, University of Oxford/STFC RAL Space-built thermal infrared multispectral imager to 100-km lunar polar orbit. These instruments will collect data to simultaneously measure composition, temperature, and thermophysical properties of the Moon's surface. Lunar Trailblazer will detect and map water on the lunar surface at key targets to (1) determine its form (OH, H2O or ice), abundance, and local distribution as a function of latitude, soil maturity, and lithology; (2) assess possible time-variation in lunar water on sunlit surfaces; and (3) use terrain-scattered light to determine the form and abundance of exposed water in permanently shadowed regions. Trailblazer will provide maps of future candidate landing sites for robotic and human exploration. In addition to advancing space science, Lunar Trailblazer also pioneers a collaboration between Caltech and Pasadena City College to train students to perform mission team roles in design, build, and operations. (, @LunarTrailblazr)

Speaker's Biography:

Bethany Ehlmann is a professor of planetary science at Caltech and research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Her research focuses on the mineralogy and chemistry of planetary surfaces, remote sensing techniques and instruments, astrobiology, and science policy and outreach. Her primary focus is unraveling Mars' environmental history and understanding the history of water in the solar system. She is PI of Lunar Trailblazer, a member of the science teams for the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), the CRISM imaging spectrometer on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. She is also on the Dawn orbiter team exploring the largest asteroid and dwarf planet Ceres, the EMIT space station-based imaging spectrometer to explore dust source regions, and is working to propose mission concepts for Europa, Venus, the Mars moons, asteroids and Earth.