2018.A.1.3. SIRONA-1: A selenocentric platform hosting international payloads


Romain Bossis (1)
Rémy Derollez (1)
Eliott Lindsay (1)
Gilles Bailet (2)
Christophe O. Laux (2)

  1. CentraleSupélec, Université Paris Saclay, France
  2. Laboratoire EM2C, CNRS, Université Paris Saclay, France




Moon, Exploration, International Collaboration, CubeSat Bus


Introduction: Over the millennia of recorded hu-man history, the Moon has been the focus of great fascination and a goal to reach. Lunar exploration started with the Luna-1 flyby (1959), culminated during the Apollo era.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute established a list of major questions still not answered since 1959. On that impulse, space agencies are projecting new missions to the Moon. Although these have great potential of scientific return, their costs do not fall within the allocated budgets. For the sake of illustration, since 2000, only 4 US, 3 Chinese, 1 Indian, 1 European and 1 Japanese have flown to the Moon.

We present in this paper a new platform based on the CubeSat standard, named SIRONA (20 kg), dedicated to bringing in lunar orbit a suite of payloads developed by universities around the world. Led by the student Space Center of CentraleSupélec (CS^3), the collaborative effort to conduct this mission will provide innovative and exploratory science return with a low budget, and will foster new impetus for Lunar exploration.

On the way to the Moon: To reduce launch costs, improve mission flexibility and demonstrate CubeSats capabilities, an off-the-shelf ion thruster will be used. From a polar orbit at low altitude around Earth to a polar orbit around the Moon (200 km), SIRONA will transit during 6 months toward the it scientific orbit. A special composite design

Payloads: a scientific board will be formed with a panel of Lunar science experts and representatives of space agencies. The universities and research laboratories worldwide will be invited to respond to a call for proposal to embark payloads onto the SIRONA platform. The call will emphasize a priority on the scientific and technology demonstration objectives such as study of the Moon’s water ice, development of a deployable high gain antenna, characterization of the far side of the Moon.

The scientific board will review the proposals taking in account the scientific merit of the expected return, the expected mass/volume/energy consumption of the experiment, as well as the educational impact. The board will select payload packages and backups to ensure a wide diversity of science objectives.

Conclusion: SIRONA is a unique low cost opportunity to fly multiple university-developed payloads to the Moon. The mission will investigate several critical Lunar exploration questions, allowing the scientific community to test different approaches for more in-depth studies in future flagship missions.


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