We are designing a small satellite lunar mission. In the preliminary design submitted for approval, most of the focus was on technological demonstration of acquired COTS hardware, flight systems, guidance navigation and control, propulsion and telemetry, tracking and command. The proposal, along with preliminary design report, is to be submitted to Indian Space Research Organisation.

Some time back, it was suggested, unofficially, by administration responsible for approval, that a scientific objective was necessary. So, we are currently looking at prospects of on-orbit science that can be conducted aboard a small satellite in a lunar orbit. This is again constrained by the fact that payload cannot be developed and must be acquired.

So, what strategies could be taken up in this problem? How do we go about narrowing down to a viable payload of scientific worthiness?

According to Lunar Exploration Roadmap and other documents and preliminary idea on mass and power budgets, we did narrow down to surface/sub-surface measurements using Microwave Radiometer (thus, my question) or Hyper-spectral imaging, specifically over few crucial craters and SPA basin (which is a common attribute for lunar orbiters).

Hence, any help as to how we should approach this problem of selection of commercially acquirable scientific payload and any other suggestions to form a viable mission?

  • $\begingroup$ This looks like something that could only be answered by listing vendors, something we avoid because otherwise answers would amount to commercial endorsements. It seems you will need to survey what's out there. $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I understand. Any form of non-specific information/suggestions would be helpful. Also, I put up this question to gain more insight from scientific community to aid mission design in any way possible, since we are doing it all without any prior experience. Thus, if not a specific selection of radiometer/HypSp Imager, the rest could be addressed. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ Could you tell us more about the context? Is ISRO seeking payloads of this kind for a planned future launch, similar to NASA's CubeQuest challenge? What are the constraints you have to work within? Is there a place we can look at the call for proposals? $\endgroup$
    – kim holder
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ There is not. ISRO is open to proposals for ' advancement of space technology ' especially by educational institutes of the country. Thus, it is through the university that proposal will be passed on for MoU and approval. However, regarding constraints, current bus configuration aiming a piggyback launch aboard PSLV/GSLV, considers 6-8 kg mass and 10-15 W Power Consumption in 'Payload' Budgeting. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ The proposal is for testing, validation and launch support. Nothing like CubeQuest or any challenge in that case. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 21:29