top of page

Welcome to your briefing for Lunar Mission! 


The briefing section of this project is designed to give you context around the project, point you to resources and inspire you with ideas which you can carry into your problem set tasks! You will be able to come back and refer to this section whenever you wish. You will also have access to downloadable resources and a library of materials we have compiled to get you started! We recommend that you take notes, create a folder on your desktop for your sources and a folder for your work.

LM_Introduction video Title.png


To understand why the moon is of interest
To gain an understanding of past lunar missions and their objectives
To gain an understanding of the capabilities of lunar colonies
To inspire creative ideas
To generate curiosity in lunar activities
To gain industry awareness of lunar-related developments

In this project, you will be working through a variety of problem sets, which have been selected and designed to help you be creative, develop high-demand skills and inspire you to delve deeper into space-system design! The problem sets we will be working through are as follows:

Problem Sets.png
Lunar Sites.png

In Lunar Sites, you will use real satellite data from the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera (LROC) to assess regions of interest for your mission. The aim is to build a case around a particular area on the moon and it's scientific and strategic benefits. You will come up with mission objectives, identify risks and perform a trade-off analysis between the different regions.

In Payloads, you will identify the scientific instruments required to achieve your mission objectives. This could be an optical imaging camera, SAR, mass spectrometer, the options are endless. You will create a data sheet for your payload,  capturing the operational requirements and justifying your payload selection. You will maintain complete creative freedom over the selection of your payload. 

Orbits I.png

In Orbits I, you will learn the basics of how to get a satellite into space. Here, you will use NASA GMAT to simulate and analyse your orbits. You will learn the basics of orbital parameters and how to perform transfer orbits, rendevous and capture. You will gain an understanding of what affects your orbital parameters and the implications of changing orbits on your system requirements.

In Orbits II, you will capitalise on your fundamental knowledge from Orbits I and begin plotting a cis-lunar transfer orbit. You will look at how missions in the past have gotten to the moon, and we will explore patched conic methodology using escape, parabolic and hyperbolic orbits. From here, you will create your own simulation in GMAT of your satellite getting to the desired orbit around the moon for your region of interest.

Orbits II.png

In Thermals, you will use Fusion360 to perform basic thermal simulations of your satellite in it's operational orbit. You will gain an understanding of the modes of heat transfer in space, such as albedo, solar heating and radiation as well as how that heat transfer varies with orbital period. You will look at the implications of these temperatures on your critical sub-systems operating temperatures.

In Con-ops, you will design a concept-of-operations for your mission. You will present a description of the envisioned system, it's goals and objectives, modes of operations and it's capabilities. Importantly, you will describe it's operational scenarios, use cases, risks and define it's nominal and off-nominal conditions. 

Image by Bartek Garbowicz


Average Distance to Earth: 239,000 miles (385,000 km)

Radius: 1,080 miles (1,740km )

Synchronous rotation

Orbital Period: 27.3 Earth days

Surface Temperature: -173°C to 127°C

Atmosphere: weak exosphere

Gravity: 1.62 m/s²

Orbital Eccentricity (e) : 0.0554

Equatorial Inclination (i): 6.68°

Escape Velocity: 8,552 kmph

Earth's Moon.png

Earth's moon is the fifth largest moon in the solar system and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits. It is a terrestrial body with a solidified, differentiated, and relatively low-density crust, mantle, and core. The moon lacks an atmosphere, hydrosphere, or magnetic field. Its surface gravity is about one-sixth of Earth's.


The moon is thought to have formed about 4.51 billion years ago, not long after Earth. The leading theory is that the moon formed from the debris left over after a Mars-sized body collided with Earth. The impact ejected a large amount of material into orbit around Earth, which eventually coalesced to form the moon.

The moon has a profound effect on Earth. It stabilizes Earth's axis of rotation, which helps to keep our climate relatively stable. The moon also causes tides, which are the rise and fall of the sea level caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun.


The moon has been a source of fascination for humans for centuries. It has been the subject of myths, legends, and scientific study. The first humans landed on the moon in 1969, and since then, there have been a number of other missions to the moon.


The moon is a valuable resource for scientists and engineers, it is a reminder of our own potential. It is a reminder that we can achieve anything we set our minds to, if we only have the courage to dream.


So next time you look up at the moon, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and its power. Remember that the moon is a symbol of hope, possibility, and inspiration. And let it inspire you to reach for the stars.



For a long-time it was thought that the moon had no capacity to hold liquid water on it's surface. The hopes for sustaining life on the moon looked slim-to-none. If we have to use up valuable fuel, and weight carrying water to the moon on rockets, there's no point. For any celestial body to be a candidate for colonisation, there has to be an in-situ resource that can be utilised (ISRU). Early lunar samples collected from the Apollo missions found trace elements of water, but the samples were assumed to be contaminated. 

Lunar Prospector

In January 1998, Lunar Prospector was launched, it's aim, to enter a low polar orbit and search for water ice in the dark craters of the moon that get little to no sunlight. In a 19 month mission, it composed a map of the Moon's surface composition. At the end of the mission, the spacecraft was deliberately crashed into a permanently shadowed crater near the lunar south pole (87.7 S, 42.0 E), in an attempt to liberate water vapour from the suspected ice deposits in the crater. However, no plumes were detected from the impact.


Cassini was a NASA mission exploring Saturn and its icy moons. On its fly-by of the Moon in August 1999, Cassini's Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) during calibration, pointed its' instruments towards the Earth and the Moon. The VIMS instrument measures the reflected solar and thermal radiation emitted. The data it gathered eluded to the presence of molecular water, with a spectral absorption feature at 3 microns, and a similar feature at 2.8 microns, indicating the presence of hydroxyl ions. However, this data was not conclusive, stating that, "additional, high spatial resolution spectra covering the 2.5 - 4 micron region were needed" .


A decade later, a historic mission which would change the perception of the Moon forever was launched. India's entry into the lunar history books began with the launch of the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. It successfully entered orbit around the Moon in early November 2008. Entering a circular orbit of 100km, this spacecraft was equipped with 11 scientific instruments, designed to carefully monitor and analyse the lunar surface.  One of the primary scientific objectives was to find water on the Moon. NASA's Mini Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini-SAR) measured reflected signals from polar craters on the moon which had the highest potential for concealing water ice. These signals were then compared with known patterns and implied the presence of water ice! However, there needed to confirmation. NASA's Moon Mineralogical Mapper (M3) was an infra-red emitter which could differentiate between ice, water and water vapour based on the surface absorptance and reflectivity. M3 confirmed the presence of water ice concentrated on the polar regions of the Moon. 

Another notable discovery from the already hugely successful mission, was the reaction of the lunar surface to the impact of solar winds. ESA's Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyser (SARA) was able to estimate the concentration of hydroxyl in the lunar regolith (soil). When this regolith is bombarded with hydrogen nuclei (protons) from solar winds, amongst other specific conditions, it results in the liberation of water from the surface.

Downloadable Resources:
bottom of page