International Lunar Observatory Association

ILO Precursor Mission Pre-Phase A Study (2008) - "A Concept Study on the International Lunar Observatory Precursor Instrument": MDA Study 1


The primary goals of the International Lunar Observatory (ILO) Precursor mission (ILO-X) will be twofold. First, to take the world’s first step towards lunar-based astronomy, illustrating the potential of the Moon as a viable platform for larger scale observatories in the future, and to demonstrate key technology components of the eventual ILO astronomy payload. Secondly, to establish the ILO as a potential service provider to future sustainable lunar exploration, in particular in the area of communications.

This study presents a number of possible scientific targets for the ILOA to consider for the ILO-X mission. A comprehensive literature search was undertaken and the literature evaluated to arrive at these targets. The targets were selected based on a combination of their assessed scientific value, their uniqueness in the use of the lunar surface and the constraints of the small instrument envisaged for the ILO-X precursor mission. Instrument concepts are presented that fill most of these scientific targets. Additionally, lunar communication concepts consisting of “lunar WiFi” as well as approaches that do not require additional hardware elements are presented.
Finally next-steps for follow-on work are outlined.

Conclusions and Future Work

This study has shown that the ILO-X mission can significantly advance the ILOA goals and show great utility for a lunarbased telescope despite limited mass and volume. Some departures from the going-in assumptions have become apparent. Mass: The mass constraint of 2kg appears too low but a mass of 3kg appears achievable although it will be a challenge when incorporating a filter wheel and expected mission and cost constraints

Galaxy Imaging: Imaging of a galxy from the Moon is possible with the size of telescope considered. The field-of-view required may be significantly narrower than other applications (i.e. Earth imaging for example).

Communications Infrastructure: The ILO-X mission constraints currently cannot support significant communications infrastructure components. The possible exception to this involves the integration of a Lunar WiFi component into the ILO-X observatory. A high level of integration of the two components is desirable to minimize mass.

The recommended approach is to develop an AMIE-based telescope with spectral discrimination (filter wheel). The design should proceed in a way that would allow the descope of either the WiFi or filter component should the mass targets be more difficult than expected at this early stage. The observatory requires a pan and tilt unit to access as much of the sky as the lander packaging will allow.

Future work should include as input:
• Using this report and additional science input, detailed and prioritized science plans for the ILO-X mission.
• 14 day mission observation plans with schedules to achieve this goal with
– 25% time utilization
– 50% time utilization
– 75% time utilization
• No additional hardware related communications plans for incorporation into the power and data budgets.
• Details of the AMIE camera hardware including dimensions, interfaces, commands, data formats, data volume, and telemetry.
• Spectral and luminosity data for science targets.
As output the following is required:
• Using the observation plans and schedules, detailed power and data profiles and budgets should be derived. These
will be necessary to negotiate instrument accommodation with the mission provider.
• Refinements to the mass budgets, packaging concept. Mass is expected to continue to be a challenge throughout the development.
• Performance estimates for each of the science goals
• Preliminary costing with a design-to-cost philosophy that maximizes the use of commercial components and standard technologies. Iteration will be required to maximize the value to ILOA and should include details of the costs of accommodation on the mission so that the total cost is minimized.
Following the above work, a requirements review should be held and the work can then rapidly proceed to PDR.