LUMIO: Characterizing Lunar Meteoroid Impacts with a CubeSat

Francesco Topputo, Angelo Cervone, Prem Sundaramoorthy, Stefano Speretta, Samiksha Mestry, Ron Noomen, More Authors

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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The Lunar Meteoroid Impact Observer (LUMIO) is a mission designed to observe, quantify, and characterize the meteoroid impacts by detecting their flashes on the lunar farside. Earth-based lunar observations are restricted by weather, geometric, and illumination conditions, while a lunar orbiter can improve the detection rate of lunar meteoroid impact flashes, as it would allow for longer monitoring periods. This paper presents the scientific mission of LUMIO, designed for the ESA SysNova LUCE competition, that resulted as the ex-aequo winner in the competition. LUMIO, a 12U CubeSat weighting approximately 20 kg, is expected to be deployed into a quasi-polar selenocentric orbit by a mother spacecraft, which also acts as communication relay. From a lunar high-inclination orbit, LUMIO will autonomously determine its trajectory to reach the Moon–Earth L2 point and perform the cruise phase. From the operative orbit, LUMIO will observe the lunar farside. When the lunar disk illumination is less than 50%, LUMIO autonomously performs the scientific task without direct coordination from Earth. Fully autonomous operations will include science, communication, and navigation. A similar concept can be re-used for a wide variety of future missions. The scientific mission will also be possible thanks to an innovative on-board data processing system, capable of drastically reducing the information to transmit to Earth. The camera, designed to capture the flashes and measure their intensity is, in fact, capable of generating 2.6 TB/day while only approximately 1 MB/day will need to be transmitted to Earth. Impact identification will be autonomous and only relevant information will be transmitted. A study at the ESA/ESTEC concurrent design facility has shown evidence of feasibility and that a CubeSat orbiting along an Earth–Moon L2 quasi-halo orbit is expected to bring a relevant contribution to lunar science and innovation to space exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 69th International Astronautical Congress
Subtitle of host publicationBremen, Germany
Place of PublicationBremen, Germany
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event69th International Astronautical Congress - Bremen, Germany
Duration: 1 Oct 20185 Oct 2018
Conference number: 69


Conference69th International Astronautical Congress
Abbreviated titleIAC 2018
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Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • CubeSat
  • Meteoroid impact flash
  • Lunar Situational Awareness
  • Earth–Moon L2
  • ESA SysNova challenge

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