Kyung Hee University is developing two of the four scientific instrument units onboard the “eXperimental Lunar Orbiter (XLO)” set to launch in 2018, the first spacecraft to orbit the moon in the history of Korean space exploration.
The instrument units under development are an wide area polarized camera and a lunar magnetometer. Professor Ho Jin at the Department of Astronomy and Space Science (Project Director) said, “The launch of the XLO will announce our arrival on the scene of space exploration as a major player.”
World’s first polarized orbital imagery of the front and back of the Moon
The polarized camera being developed at Kyung Hee is planned to be used on the world’s first polarized orbital imagery of both the front and back of the moon. When the sunlight is reflected on the surface of the moon, the degree of polarization of light can reveal the size and types of material it was bounced off. Professor Sungsoo Kim at the School of Space Research said, “The rapid advancement in the optical and digital imaging technology since the 1990s has provided us with ever clearer high-resolution details of the lunar surface that resulted in many new findings. We fully expect that this unprecedented circumvolant polarized imaging of the moon will yield completely new discoveries.”
New lunar magnetometer optimized for space environment
The new lunar magnetometer will measure minute changes in the strength of the moon’s magnetic field and map them into a high precision 3D magnetic chart that can rival the best in the world. Previously the moon was believed to have no magnetic field, but recently a number of magnetic anomalies have been detected on the lunar surface. The new magnetometer is expected to produce important basic data regarding the genesis and evolution of the moon. Professor Jin said, “We have been designing various sensors for satellite such as magnetometers and particle detectors during the developmental course of the CINEMA (Cubesat for Ion, Neutral, Electron, MAgnetic field) series. Taking advantage of the accumulated experience, we are now developing a fully-optimized and mission-specific magnetometer for the XLO.”
National project to establish infrastructure for lunar exploration
Kyung Hee’s plan for lunar exploration first began in 2008 when the University was selected for the aerospace and defence part of the “World Class University (WCU)” program. This led to a number of international cooperative relations with many world leaders in the aerospace industry and academia laying down the framework for Kyung Hee’s space research capability. In 2012 and 2013 Kyung Hee successfully developed and launched CINEMA stage one, stage two (KHUSAT-1), and stage three (KHUSAT-2). While the CINEMA stage one was jointly developed with the University of California, Berkeley, the next two stages were developed by Kyung Hee with international technical assist. In February 2014, the University was chosen as the lead developer for the space weather analysis module of Chollian II, aka Communication, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite 2 (COMS-2), which is the first ever Korean-made geostationary space weather observation satellite. Professor Jin said, “Since the beginning of the WCU program in 2008, Kyung Hee’s relentless spirit of challenge has brought us to the cusp of reaching the moon. Successful completion of this project will greatly enhance our level of technical expertise and the reputation of the University in the field of space exploration, leading to more international cooperative research opportunities.”