The LVICE² space probe project has successfully passed the ESA review

14. 02. 2023

Lunar VIcinity Complex Environmental Explorer (LVICE²) probe is being developed by a Czech consortium led by esc Aerospace company. A number of academic institutions participate in the development of scientific instruments for the probe, our Department of Radiation Dosimetry (DRD) of the NPI of the CAS is preparing instruments for measuring ionizing radiation.

The objectives of the mission are to obtain scientific data on turbulence in the solar wind plasma, cosmic radiation and interplanetary dust concentrations around the Moon, and help pave the way for future lunar missions. Two instruments will be used to measure ionizing radiation: the new hybrid radiation detector PARDAL2 (PArticle Radiation Detector At Lunar orbit and Lagrange), developed by DRD together with FNSPE CTU in Prague and the mentioned company esc Aerospace, and the compact radiation detector SPACEDOS, which was already used during space missions.

The LVICE² project completed phase A with a successful comprehensive review by the European Space Agency (ESA), in which the feasibility of the mission was verified and the requirements for its technical implementation were approved. LVICE² thus enters phase B1 with the elaboration of the designs of the individual instruments on the probe and the interface between them. In June 2023, the project will undergo another review by ESA, on the basis of which a panel of experts nominated by the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic will decide on the further continuation of the mission. If production of this probe gets the "green light", it should be launched into lunar orbit in 2027.

According to the original design, the probe was to be manufactured in the Cubesat standard, offering a modular solution for small satellites, and weigh about 20 kg. Due to the amount of scientific instruments and other mission requirements, however, it was necessary to design the probe's own design. The planned probe is now close to a washing machine in size, and after refueling, its weight will be approximately 120 kg.

The preparation of the probe project is financed by the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic as part of the program of so-called ambitious projects. This program aims to strengthen the role of the Czech space industry on a global scale and increase the reputation of Czech science in the field of space exploration.

More detailed information about the LVICE² mission can be found (in Czech) in the esc Aerospace press release here and on the mission website here.