Power Grant Awarded to Alexander Cushen

Alexander Cushen, graduate student at U-M Climate and Space, was awarded a U-M Space Institute Power Grant in the amount of $5,000, for his project “ARC-LITE: Absorbance and Reflectance Characteristics of Lunar Dust for Imaging Technology and Exploration” in December 2023.

With many missions planned to visit the Moon in the coming years, it is more important than ever to study the hazards that arise during a lunar landing and develop new systems and technologies to mitigate them. One significant danger is the dust kicked up by the lander’s rocket exhaust as it nears the surface; apart from damaging the spacecraft and nearby assets, it can interfere with the sensors used to determine the lander’s position and velocity. Supported by the Space Institute’s Power Grant, our student team will construct a scale-model lunar testbed that allows us to benchmark the performance of LiDARs and cameras in an optical environment analogous to a lunar landing. The testbed will enable us to develop new signal-processing methods that combine readings from each detector to improve positioning accuracy. These experiments will also support our engagement in the 2024 NASA Human Lander Challenge.”