NASA has selected a new scientific payload to investigate volcanic craters on the Moon. Ina Irregular Mare Patch, a unique geological feature discovered by the Apollo 15 mission in 1971, is called Dimple, short for Dating an Irregular Mare Patch by Lunar Explorer.
“Dimple will add a wealth of knowledge about the Moon that helps us understand the origins of Earth and other planets in the Solar System. And, as we learn more about our closest neighbor, we can support long-term human exploration of the Moon and one day on Mars,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Said.
Although NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has found about 70 irregular mar patches, Ina is the largest identified so far. Studying it will help solve great questions about the evolution of the Moon, which will provide clues to the history of the entire solar system.
Dimple will use a rover provided by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services, a collection gripping instrument, and a spectrometer to help determine the composition of lunar material to analyze the age and composition of samples collected from the object’s surface. According to NASA, the mission will collect and analyze anywhere from three to more than 25 samples to learn more about the timing of the volcanic activity that formed the feature.
NASA has a $50 million cost for the payload suite and plans to issue a CLPS task order in 2024 to determine launch services to get Dimple to the Moon. The delivery date is set no earlier than the second quarter of 2027.
“By picking out the dimple, we aim to settle the debate about how recently the Moon was volcanically active,” said Joel Keynes, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.