ASI and Qascom to test first GNSS receiver on the Moon – Geospatial World
A 2023 iris in the lunar Mare Crisium will transport the first GNSS receiver to the surface of this planet: the Navigation Early Investigation on Lunar surface (NEIL) receiver with software-defined radio (SDR) technology. The receiver will result from agreements between the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), The Italian Space Agency (ABOUT) and the Italian company Qascom srl.
Qascom will develop a GNSS reception system for ASI, consisting of a dual-frequency receiver with a double constellation and the entire signal reception circuit (antenna, LNA, filters), capable of supporting the extreme conditions of the Moon. The system will be integrated aboard NASA’s Blue Ghost lunar spacecraft in early 2022. Weak signals from the side lobes of GPS and Galileo satellite dishes (not intended for use outside Earth) will be processed with specific algorithms that allow positioning, space and time, albeit with reduced accuracy, as you travel to the Moon, in lunar orbit, and on the surface of the Moon itself.
The receiver will be part of the on-board payload of the Lunar GNSS Receiver Experiment (LuGRE), defined in the ASI / NASA agreement, which aims to operate in lunar and crescentic environments. LuGRE will fly on one of NASA’s lunar payload (CLPS) commercial missions. The mission will bring 9 other scientific and technological experiments to the moon. Scheduled for the end of 2023, it will be launched with the Falcon 9 carrier from Space X.
The positioning will be tested with GPS and Galileo systems for the first time in history.
NEIL is an important step, both technically and scientifically, for future lunar missions, as it will allow us to understand how GPS and Galileo can be used on the moon to position and time the lunar orbital station for the lunar satellite constellations, the programs of Artemis. The raw data collected and processed will be made available to the scientific community to study the lunar and cislunar environment and assess the future use of GNSS and its evolutions to support ongoing missions.