Sunlight can be reflected into permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) using S/C solar sails in order to detect and confirm the presence and distribution of water ice cold-trapped in PSRs in lunar polar craters. This reflected light is then viewed with an optical spectrometer.

HEOMD AES (Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Advanced Exploration Systems) has identified a strategic knowledge gap — the presence, quantity, and distribution of water ice cold-trapped in lunar PSRs. Existing or prior assets have provided ambiguous evidence for the presence of water in PSRs, and there is a desire to investigate using the water-absorption features at 1 to 3 μm using a CubeSat, but there is a lack of a viable illumination source. Reflecting sunlight from the CubeSat’s solar sail can provide the required illumination.

This work was done by Christopher G. Paine of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-49633

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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