To prepare for the next giant leap in space exploration-traveling to Mars-the NASA Artemis program is planning to send humans back to the moon by 2024. But first, Artemis scientists are sending up a bunch of science projects, and a BU telescope is one of them.
The Lunar Environment Heliospheric X-ray Imager (LEXI) is being designed and built in a lab on Cummington Street by a team of engineers led by Brian Walsh, a BU College of Engineering assistant professor of mechanical engineering. In 2023, LEXI will be hitching a ride on Firefly Aerospace’s Blue Ghost lunar lander, alongside nine other science and technology payloads.
Blue Ghost will touch down in fall 2023 at a landing site in the moon’s Mare Crisium (Sea of Crisis), a low-lying basin just northeast of the Sea of Tranquility, where Apollo 11, carrying the first human visitors to the moon, landed in 1969. Once on the moon, LEXI will take the first-of-its-kind X-ray images of the Earth’s magnetosphere, helping scientists study how the magnetic fields around Earth interact with solar wind. The new data will give us critical insights into how space weather and other cosmic forces surrounding our planet impact Earth.