CNES projects library

August 1, 2022

Farside Seismic Suite (FSS)

Landing two seismometers on the Moon in 2025 will mark a first since the Apollo missions of the 1970s, when deep moonquakes were recorded on its near side. FSS will land on the far side, near the south pole in Shrödinger basin, an ancient impact crater bearing traces of volcanic eruptions some half billion years ago

The Farside Seismic Suite (FSS) mission will comprise two seismometers, a French Very Broad Band (VBB) seismometer and a British Short Period (SP) seismometer. FSS was selected by NASA in June 2021 to land in the Moon’s Shrödinger basin in 2025.
FSS is set to answer three key questions:

  • Is seismology different on the Moon’s far side?
  • How do impact processes shape the lunar crust?
  • What is the current micrometeorite impact rate?

Mark Panning of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is the Principal Investigator (PI) for this NASA mission. CNES is supplying the VBB seismometer in partnership with the IPGP Earth physics institute in Paris. VBB is using a flight spare of the SEIS seismometer on the InSight mission operating on Mars since 2018.

Unlike its Martian predecessor, FSS will not be deployed to the surface. The lack of an atmosphere on the Moon means the suite will not be affected by parasitic motion from the lander that could interfere with measurements. It will also be powered independently by its own solar panels and have its own telecommunications system to be able to pursue measurements for at least four months, outliving the lander. The suite is a cube of 40 cm on a side and weighs around 40 kg.