NASA has sent several famous space missions to the Moon and is about to send some more before this decade is over. Still, unmanned spacecraft played a major part in our lunar exploration efforts — a feat that would not have been possible without regular advances in spacecraft bus technology. But what is a spacecraft bus? More importantly, how does it help us explore our natural satellite?
What Does the Spacecraft Bus Do?
A spacecraft bus is a platform that carries all useful payloads, from propulsion thrusters and thermal controls to sensors and onboard computers. Spacecraft bus uses may vary significantly depending on the spacecraft’s purpose — that is, if it is designed to monitor the environment, broadcast television, or forecast weather. Spacecraft buses designed to remain in our planet’s orbit work for extended periods and use solar cell panels. And, even though satellites can perform all sorts of different tasks, spacecraft bus design and its subsystem components are almost identical.
There’s always a central controller that has attached many remote terminals and some other systems without which a bus would not be able to operate. Spacecraft bus subsystems usually include thermal control, propulsion, power distribution, power, telemetry command, telemetry control, attitude control, and antenna or transmitters. Spacecraft buses also employ computers, onboard software, and processing, as well as structural elements. Also, modular bus technology is on the rise today because it offers one of the most cost-efficient ways to explore space, in general, and the lunar environment, in particular.
What is Modular Common Spacecraft Bus?
Modular Common Spacecraft Bus (MCSB) design is based on a standard octagonal shape, with up to 50-kg payload capacity, which is quick and affordable in its design. NASA claims that MCSB tech is ideal for uncrewed spacecraft bus missions and docking with near-Earth objects. That is, Modular Common Spacecraft Bus tech should prove useful in upcoming Moon missions. With MCSB, we will get to orbit the Moon and send spacecraft to dock with other natural and artificial objects in lunar orbit.
It will also take lunar atmosphere studies to a new level because even despite its relatively low payload capacity. How exactly?
Modular Common Spacecraft Bus for Moon Studying
A spacecraft bus works for any unconventional unmanned mission and is used for moon landings and atmosphere studies. Thanks to previous manned and unnamed missions, we have discovered that Moon atmosphere composition is made from hydrogen, neon, argon, and helium.
However, those studies used to be quite expensive, whereas NASA’s Modular Common Spacecraft Bus design significantly reduces the cost of upcoming Moon studies. Standard octagon design and enough payload capacity of Modular Common Spacecraft Bus make it possible to continue Moon atmosphere gases and Moon atmosphere layers research without allocating enormous budgets to this task.
Even though Modular Common Spacecraft Bus has an octagonal rather than elongated shape, it still features the same components as previous buses, including power subsystems, an engine, communication systems, steering systems, and some other scientific instruments. There are also instruments that study what the Moon’s atmosphere is made of.
What is the Importance of Lunar Studies?
Lunar studies help us reach the Moon so that we can build bases on our natural satellite. If we can stay on the Moon for a long time, we can exploit its resources and build our future in space. Scientists who study the Moon are working hard to build the most advanced satellites, spacecraft buses, along with other types of vehicles so that we can remain in space and employ its resources for future exploration. Without reaching the Moon and building space bases there, we can’t have the multi-planetary future that we are all dreaming of.
What Does a Lunar Geologist Study?
A lunar geologist studies what is the Moon’s atmosphere made of and just how our satellite has evolved in time. They use remote sensing data, look at images, and analyze the lunar soil or rocks so that they can recover all the information and put it into context. They help design the spacecraft needed for Moon exploration.
Moon’s geological characteristics provide all sorts of fundamental data that permit to study of geological processes for adapting the Moon’s crust for living there. Besides, they record how the state of the lunar interior to analyze how this environment has evolved. Atmospheric processes on the lunar surface are also important for the study of the Moon’s interior. To put it more simply, a lunar geologist studies not only the Moon’s surface but also its interior.
Right now, NASA’s primary focus in Moon studies is building a permanent base there for future flights to Mars. Obviously, this cannot be done without making full use of lunar resources because delivering building materials from Earth is a costly endeavour. However, new technology, including advanced spacecraft buses, helps reduce mission costs. So, it already looks like humanity is to enter a new stage of space exploration — starting with building bases on our natural satellite.