New 'SPIDER' probes to detect moonquakes during upcoming Artemis missions

Fleet Space just announced it was awarded $2.65 million to take its moonquake-hunting probes to the lunar south pole.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of Fleet Space's SPIDER.
An artist's impression of Fleet Space's SPIDER.

Fleet Space 

Australian company Fleet Space announced it is one crucial step closer to sending a network of spider-like moonquake probes to detect seismic activity on the Moon.

The company received funding to develop its Seismic Payload for Interplanetary Discovery, Exploration and Research, or SPIDER, as part of an early-stage million AUS ($2.65 million USD) contract, a press statement reveals.

Fleet Space ultimately aims to send three of its SPIDER probes to the Moon for one lunar day, which is equal to 14 days on Earth. The machines will use seismic activity to help detect resources on the lunar surface.

Spider-like robots to measure moonquakes

According to Fleet Space, the SPIDER system is set to launch "aboard a commercial lander" that has not yet been chosen.

"We are poised to be the first Australian technology to touch down on the surface of the moon, supporting humanity's efforts towards colonisation and aligning with NASA's Artemis program, with a future vision of Martian exploration supporting the hunt for life beyond our planet," Fleet Space CEO Matthew Pearson explained.

Once on the Moon, the SPIDER probes will record moonquakes continuously for the entire 14-day period. The development of Fleet Space's probes could benefit people on Earth. "We are explorers with a mission to revolutionize mineral exploration from Earth to the moon and Mars," the company wrote in its statement.

Australia goes all in on Artemis

Australia was one of the first signatories of the Artemis Accords, which recently saw India and Ecuador also join the fold. A total of 27 nations have now joined.

The Artemis Accords were established by the US in 2020 as a framework for governing the exploration of space via principles including transparency, interoperability, registration of space objects, energy assistance, and sharing of scientific data.

In 2025 or 2026, NASA aims to land humans on the lunar surface for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972. The US space agency is funding the development of several lunar robotic projects under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

Fleet Space received its new funding from the Australian government's $40 million AUS ($26.45 million USD) "moon to Mars initiative", which is similar to NASA's CLPS. Fleet also recently raised $50 million AUS ($33 million USD) in a Series C fundraising round. It's also developing a satellite network, called ExoSphere, designed to scan for minerals in Earth orbit.

Seismic data can teach us a great deal about Earth and its planetary neighbors. NASA's Insight Lander mission on Mars, for example, recently stopped functioning due to a thick layer of Martian dust on the lander's solar arrays. Before it stopped collecting data, though, it used a seismometer to shed new light on the planet's ancient core.

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