NASA is supporting the development of Puli Space’s “water sniffing” detector, Puli Lunar Water Snooper, with $ 225 thousand (more than 66 million forints) – it is planned to be completed by January 2022.
As you know, the Puli Space water exploration detector won first prize in the lunar resources category last year at the U.S. space agency’s “Honey, I shrunk the NASA payload” challenge, in which the task was to design feasible, small-scale and light-weight lunar measuring and monitoring devices that could be deployed on small robots the size of a shoebox. By increasing the available financial framework, the jury awarded a total of four projects and highlighted the outstanding quality of the applications submitted, according to the announcement, according to which only the Puli water sniffer was included among the winners and will receive 225 thousand.
Puli’s “water sniffer” uses three professional CMOS image sensors to measure cosmic radiation and the number of neutrons of different energies coming from the lunar soil, the so-called regolit, as a result. The use of CMOS sensors for image digitization is now commonplace in mobile phones and webcams as well. PLWS is able to detect neutrons using specially coated sensors, thereby identifying hydrogen (water ice) and measuring its amount and distribution in the lunar soil (regolit). The extremely small weight and size of the instrument make it particularly suitable and deployable, even when mounted on the belly of a 2 kg lunar cruiser.
Following the recent successful Chinese Chiang’o-5 lunar expedition to India, In addition to Russian and Japanese expeditions, NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) program will launch landing units developed by private companies: Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines in the second half of 2021, and in 2022 Masten Systems’ spacecraft will carry NASA instruments and small lunar spacecraft, among others. .
An important task of these expeditions is to map the lunar resources and to explore their exploitation. At present, the number one candidate for these possibilities on the Moon is water ice, from which future Moon settlers could be supplied with water, but it could also serve as rocket fuel, as it can be used to produce hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis.