International Lunar Network
Phase: Under Study
Launch Date: March 01, 2018
Program(s):Robotic Lunar Exploration
The International Lunar Network (ILN) was conceived in 2008 as a partnership among space-faring nations to establish a set of robotic geophysical monitoring stations on the surface of the Moon. Participation in the ILN could be in the form of robotic landers, orbiters, instrumentation, or other significant infrastructure contributions, including communications capabilities which in total would comprise the ILN.
Between 2008-2010, NASA studied a mission concept for 2-4 robotic lunar landers (known as the Anchor Nodes) as a potential contribution to the ILN partnership. Since the estimated cost of the Anchor Node mission concepts fell within the range of a New Frontiers-class of mission, lunar network science was referred to the National Research Council's Planetary Science Decadal Survey for prioritization. The results of the Planetary Decadal Survey released in March 2011 ranked a Lunar Geophysical Network and sample return from the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin among the 7 priority mission candidates for future competitions in the New Frontiers Program.
As part of the Lunar Quest Program, NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has conducted mission concept studies, engineering tests, and risk reduction and technology development activities to support the development of small robotic landers. These investments are designed to help lower the cost and risk of future lunar surface science missions, including those concepts prioritized by the Decadal Survey.
Currently, SMD and the Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) are jointly studying a mission concept to study lunar volatiles and conduct an in-situ resource utilization experiment (RESOLVE).