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Lunar Outpost Announces Second Mission: Lunar Vertex

Lunar Outpost's MAPP rover to explore Reiner Gamma with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory


09 December 2021


Lunar Outpost is thrilled to announce that our MAPP lunar rover has been selected by NASA for a second mission to the Moon! Lunar Outpost teamed with The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) to create the Lunar Vertex mission and submit to NASA’s PRISM program.

Credit: Johns Hopkins APL/Lunar Outpost/Ben Smith

The team’s proposal to explore the mysterious Reiner Gamma region of the lunar surface was chosen and will launch in early 2024. Lunar Outpost’s Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform (MAPP) rover will carry the Lunar Vertex payload suite, which includes instruments to quantify the local magnetic field and surface composition of the Moon at the Reiner Gamma site.


Reiner Gamma is an unexplored equatorial region of the Moon that is characterized by its brightly colored magnetic swirls, visible from Earth, which are discolorations on the lunar surface that are currently unexplained by science and interestingly correlate with magnetized parts of the Moon’s crust. Scientists believe that this area will provide new insights into the origin of our solar system, as well as into the physical properties of the Moon and other similar planetary bodies.


“The magnetic anomalies are superb natural laboratories,” said APL’s David Blewett, the principal investigator and leader of APL’s science team. “They offer a venue to examine key questions in several major areas of planetary science, from geophysics to geology to plasma physics.”

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

The Lunar Vertex mission will carry an ion-electron plasma spectrometer developed by the Southwest Research Institute, magnetometers developed by APL, and a multispectral microscope, all of which will serve to provide comprehensive insight into the phenomena of Reiner Gamma. Over the course of the mission, MAPP will traverse just over a mile of lunar terrain, collecting data from both light and dark portions of the Reiner Gamma swirls.


“Lunar Outpost is delighted to support the Lunar Vertex team and provide lunar rover mobility for the instruments to maximize the science return from this groundbreaking mission,” said AJ Gemer, CTO of Lunar Outpost. “Our MAPP rover is an excellent platform for science missions of this type, due to its high payload-mass fraction, long drive distances, and ability to accommodate a wide range of instrument requirements.”


Viewed together with Lunar Outpost’s first mission, which is headed to the lunar South Pole in Q4 2022 to begin testing communication infrastructure in anticipation of the Artemis program, the equatorial Lunar Vertex mission demonstrates the versatility of MAPP and the breadth of mission goals that it can accomplish.


This second mission for a commercial lunar rover platform is another landmark step that Lunar Outpost and its partners, like the lander provider Intuitive Machines, are undertaking to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon.


With secondary payload space still available for commercial sale on the 2022 M1 flight and future missions, reach out to our Solutions team at info@lunaroutpost.com if you’d like to fly with us and help enable humanity’s next leap.

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