Following a successful contract negotiation meeting at ESTEC last Thursday, ESA has confirmed it will fund the Exospheric Mass Spectrometer (EMS; working title) that the Open University will develop in a partnership with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. This was selected by NASA for inclusion in its Commercial Lunar Payloads Services initiative as part of the new Artemis program to return humans to the Moon’s surface.
EMS is doubly noteworthy: it is the only instrument to be selected by NASA that has significant non-US involvement, and it is the first (and to date, only) funding awarded by ESA following their receipt of 135 responses to their Request for Ideas issued a year ago. EMS will be developed under a €1 million contract led by Open University with support from RAL Space and will fly by mid-2021 on an Astrobotic lander to Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the near side of the Moon.
The contract also opens up opportunities for follow-on instruments in cooperation with other commercial and agency (e.g. China) missions. All of these successes strengthen preparations for our much larger ProSPA package flying to near the lunar south pole in 2025 on Luna-27 (Roscosmos).