On Thursday, NASA revealed the first instruments it plans to ship off to the future Gateway outpost that’ll work to support the Artemis lunar missions. NASA refers to the instruments as ‘scientific investigations,’ and they’re designed to monitor solar radiation and space weather. One of the instruments was built by NASA and the other was built by the European Space Agency.
According to NASA, its space weather instrument suite is designed to observe solar wind and solar particles generated by our Sun, helping researchers to better understand the challenges that future Mars and Moon missions may face. The space agency says that data gathered by this hardware will enable it to better forecast potentially disruptive solar events.
Joining the space weather hardware will be the ESA’s radiation instrument ‘package,’ which NASA says was built to help researchers understand the best ways to protect astronauts who will spend time on the Gateway outpost. The instruments will monitor the radiation exposure that is experienced in the Gateway’s planned orbit.
NASA associate administrator for science Thomas Zurbuchen explained:
Our Sun and the environment around it is very dynamic. This instrument suite will help us observe the particles and energy that our star emits — and mitigate the risks to astronauts at the Moon and eventually Mars. Not only will we learn more about our space environment, but we’ll also learn how to improve forecasting space weather wherever the Artemis Generation journeys away from Earth.
These will be the first of many instruments sent to the Gateway. NASA plans a variety of future lunar missions that will look for water ice and more, paving the way for future manned outposts and more. The work is being done under the relatively new Artemis mission but is described as a stepping stone toward future Mars missions.