|Mission type||Technology, science|
|Mission duration||Cruise: 6 months|
Science: 6 months
|Spacecraft type||6U CubeSat|
|Manufacturer||JAXA and the University of Tokyo|
|Launch mass||14 kg (31 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||December 2019|
|Rocket||SLS Block 1|
|Launch site||Kennedy LC-39B|
|Flyby of Moon|
|Main UV telescope|
|Wavelengths||extreme ultraviolet: 30.4 nm|
|Band||X band and Ka band|
|TWTA power||13 W|
EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft) is a nanosatellite of the 6-Unit CubeSat format that will measure the distribution of plasma that surrounds the Earth (plasmasphere) to help scientists understand the radiation environment in that region. It will also demonstrate low-thrust trajectory control techniques, such as multiple lunar flybys, within the Earth-Moon region using water steam as propellant. The spacecraft was designed and developed jointly by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the University of Tokyo.
EQUULEUS will be one of thirteen CubeSats to be carried with the Orion EM-1 mission into a heliocentric orbit in cislunar space on the maiden flight of the Space Launch System, scheduled to launch in December 2019.
Mapping the plasmasphere around Earth may provide important insight for protecting both humans and electronics from radiation damage during long space journeys. It will also demonstrate low-thrust trajectory control techniques, such as multiple lunar flybys, within the Earth-Moon Lagrangian points (EML). The mission will demonstrate that departing from EML can transfer to various orbits, such as Earth orbits, Moon orbits, and interplanetary orbits, with a tiny amount of orbital control. EQUULEUS features 2 deployable solar panels, and lithium batteries.
The mission will be monitored from the Japanese deep space antenna (64-meter antenna and 34-meter antenna) with support from the DSN (Deep Space Network) of JPL. The Principal investigator is Professor Hashimoto at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The mission is named after the 'little horse' constellation Equuleus.
|Thrust||2 - 4 mN|
|Specific impulse||>70 s|
|Stored pressure||< 100 kPa|
|Power||12 – 15 W|
|Water mass||1.2 kg|
|Total Delta-V||70 m/s|
The propulsion system, called AQUARIUS, employs 8 water thrusters also used for attitude control (orientation) and momentum management. The spacecraft will carry 1.5 kg of water, and the complete propulsion system will occupy about 2.5 units out of the 6 units total spacecraft volume. The waste heat from the communication components is reused to assist in the heating of water vapor, which is heated to 100 °C (212 °F) at the pre-heater. The AQUARIUS' water thrusters produce a total of 4.0 mN, a specific impulse (Isp) of 70 s, and consumes about 20 W power.
EQUULEUS' scientific payload features a small UV telescope named PHOENIX (Plasmaspheric Helium ion Observation by Enhanced New Imager in eXtreme ultraviolet) that will operate in the high-energy extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. It consists of an entrance mirror of 60 mm diamemeter, and a photon counting device. The reflectivity of the mirror is optimized for the emission line of helium ion (30.4 nm wavelength), which is the relevant component of the Earth's plasmasphere. The plasmasphere is where various phenomena are caused by the electromagnetic disturbances by the solar wind. By flying far from the Earth, the PHOENIX telescope will provide a global image of the Earth's plasmasphere and contribute to its spatial and temporal evolution.
DELPHINUS (DEtection camera for Lunar impact PHenomena IN 6U Spacecraft), or DLP, for short is a camera connected to the PHOENIX telescope to observe lunar impact flashes and near-Earth asteroids, as well as potential 'mini-moons' while positioned at the Earth-Moon Lagrangian point L2 (EML2) halo orbit. Theoretically, NEOs approaching Earth can be briefly caught within Earth's gravity well, and although in terms of orbital mechanics the object's movements is still centered around the sun, to an observer on Earth it will move as if it is a moon of the planet. One example of such an object is 2006 RH120, which orbited Earth between 2006 and 2007. If a mini-moon or NEO that can be rendezvoused by EQUULEUS is identified, the CubeSat will attempt a flyby. This payload occupies about 0.5 units out of the total 6 units volume. The results will contribute to the risk evaluation for future infrastructure or human activity on the lunar surface.
The instrument named CLOTH (Cis-Lunar Object Detector within Thermal Insulation) will detect and evaluate the meteoroid impact flux in the cislunar space by using dust detectors mounted on the exterior of the spacecraft. The goal of this instrument is to understand the size and spatial distribution of dust solid objects in the cislunar space. CLOTH utilizes the spacecraft's multi-layer insulation (MLI) as a detector, thus realizing a dust counter suitable for mass-constrained CubeSats. It will be the first instrument to measure the dust environment of the Earth–Moon L2 Lagrangian point, and aims to uncover the dust's origin, as well as conducting risk assessment of the L2 point dust particles in anticipation of a future manned mission. CLOTH will decipher L2 point dust (likely originating from mini-moons) from sporadic dust by differences in their impact velocity.
- The 13 CubeSats flying in the Exploration Mission 1
- Lunar Flashlight will map exposed water ice on the Moon
- Near-Earth Asteroid Scout by NASA is a solar sail spacecraft that will encounter a near-Earth asteroid
- BioSentinel is an astrobiology mission
- SkyFire by Lockheed Martin
- Lunar IceCube, by the Morehead State University
- CubeSat for Solar Particles (CuSP)
- Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper (LunaH-Map), designed by the Arizona State University
- EQUULEUS, submitted by JAXA and the University of Tokyo
- OMOTENASHI, submitted by JAXA, is a lunar lander
- ArgoMoon, designed by Argotec and coordinated by Italian Space Agency
- Cislunar Explorers, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
- Earth Escape Explorer (CU-E3), University of Colorado Boulder
- Team Miles, by Fluid and Reason LLC, Florida
- CubeSat and microsatellite projects of ISSL
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- Plasmaspheric Helium ion Observation by Enhanced New Imager in eXtreme ultraviolet. EQUULEUS mission home page. Intelligent Space Systems Laboratory, The University of Tokyo. 2017.
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- "DELPHINUS". Intelligent Space Systems Laboratory. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
- Yano, Hajime; Hirai, Takayuki; Arai, Kazuyoshi (5 January 2017). "EQUULEUS搭載地球・月軌道間微粒子検出機能断熱材(CLOTH)の開発" (PDF) (in Japanese). JAXA. Retrieved 2017-04-27.