Hungarian research equipment could be taken to the Moon
After two years of development and prototyping, Puli Space Technologies won second place in the "Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload, the Sequel" competition in May. The Hungarian-developed instrument can identify hydrogen and hydrogen-containing volatiles, including water ice, in the upper layer of lunar regolith.
The Puli Lunar Water Snooper is a tiny neutron spectrometer, measuring only 10x10x3.4 cm and weighing barely 400 grams that detect hydrogen atoms in the lunar regolith. Hydrogen concentrations indicate whether water and other hydrogen-bearing volatiles are present. Since cosmic rays generate these neutrons, hydrogen can be detected up to one meter below the surface. A low-cost, simple, and extremely lightweight solution for this capability is critical for future robotic explorations on the Moon.
The concept of Puli Space Technologies, a team of Hungarian engineers, won the $30,000 grand prize in NASA's "Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload" challenge in the summer of 2020, and this year the team came second in the final round of the competition.
In the Instruments Capable of Exploring Lunar Resources category, the only one to have entered the implementation phase is the water snooper from Puli Space Technologies. The key to their success is that they could design and manufacture a lunar-ready device within a year and deliver three working examples for testing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
"We are proud of the results achieved so far. International recognition is important for us, and it advances our ability to plan and validate our research: we are excited to receive NASA approval to launch the Puli Lunar Water Snooper on a future mission. At the same time, technical consultations are underway to participate in another mission, to reach the South Pole of the Moon within a year and take measurements in a so-called 'permanently shadowed region,' at temperatures of minus 200 degrees Celsius." - said Dr. Tibor Pacher, founder, and head of Puli Space Technologies.
The Hungarian success emerged from serious preparation and competition, with 132 entries from 29 countries in the NASA Spring 2020 "Honey, I Shrunk the NASA payload" challenge, miniature scientific instrument concepts that can help monitor the lunar environment and explore resources.
In January 2021, in the second round, ten teams submitted entries to continue the challenge, where they had to convince NASA with a detailed project plan that the idea could be implemented within a year. 4 projects were selected for implementation, with the Puli Lunar Water Snooper finishing second.
The Puli Space Technologies team was supported by several volunteers, as well as by national and international companies: PCB Design Ltd., Péter Szántó (FPGArt Ltd., BME MIT lecturer), Nanosensors Lab (Energy Science Research Centre), Elektromont Ltd., Kiskutya Ltd., Concorde MB Partners and the Radiation to Electronics (R2E) group of CERN.
About the mission of Puli Space Technologies
Puli Space Technologies Ltd. is a Budapest-based space technology company founded in 2010 with the vision of becoming part of the fast-growing private lunar industry. Puli Space Technologies is developing a low-cost, lightweight lunar rover with unique mobility capabilities and instrumentation capable of surviving the extreme lunar environment, discovering lunar resources, and helping to exploit them on the lunar surface.
About the "Honey, I shrunk the NASA payload" competition:
Dr. Tibor Pacher
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