EQUULEUS (EQUilibriUm Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft) will be the world's smallest spacecraft to explore the Earth-Moon Lagrange point. It is being jointly developed by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and the University of Tokyo, and will be launched by NASA's Space Launch System Exploration Mission-1. The spacecraft will fly to a libration orbit around the Earth-Moon L2 point (EML2) and will demonstrate low-energy trajectory-control techniques within the Sun-Earth-Moon region for the first time by a nano-class spacecraft. EQUULEUS also carries three scientific observation missions: imaging of Earth's plasmasphere by extreme ultraviolet wavelength, lunar impact flash observation on the far side of the moon, and micrometeoroid flux measurements in the cis-lunar region. While all these missions have their own scientific objectives, they will also contribute to future human activity and/or infrastructure development in the cis-lunar region. Most parts of the spacecraft system use commercial off-the-shelf components, or are designed based on the experiences of various past space missions, with the exception of the newly developed water resistojet propulsion system. EQUULEUS uses X-band frequency for deep space telecommunication. Japanese deep space antennas (64-m and 34-m) will be nominally used for spacecraft operation, and support from the deep space network of JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) is also being planned, especially for the initial phase of operation. The spacecraft will fly to EML2 in less than one year, and will remain there for scientific observations until shortly before the depletion of the onboard propellant, when the spacecraft will leave the orbit for space-debris compliance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aerospace Engineering
- Space and Planetary Science
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering