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Half a century later, the United States returns to the moon with the Odysseus mission

Half a century later, the United States returns to the moon with the Odysseus mission

The countries Odysseus by Intuitive Machines has successfully landed near the moon’s south pole Return of the United States to lunar soil more than 50 years after the end of the Apollo program.

The hexagonal spacecraft landed softly and autonomously in the 24-kilometer-diameter Malapert A impact crater at 23:24 UTC on February 22 about 300 kilometers from the South Pole of the moon. The descent occurred from an orbit 92 kilometers from the moon. Confirmation of the landing did not reach mission control until 13 minutes later, when the module’s acquisition signal was received.

The lander from Intuitive Machines, a Houston-based company contracted by NASA to deliver scientific payloads to the moon, started on February 15th at 06:05 UTC on a Space X Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center and has a million kilometers traveled. The module is intended to operate on the surface for one lunar day, which corresponds to 14 Earth days.

It was that second attempt by the United States in a few weeks after returning to the moon, for now Robot missions, after the end of the Apollo program half a century ago. Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander was launched on January 8, but the ship’s loss of fuel prevented the ship from reaching its scheduled February 23 destination.

Both missions are part of the NASA initiative Commercial lunar freight services (CLPS), through which it contracts with private companies to build and launch the ships.

One of the NASA instruments carried by Odysseus, the High frequency mass measuring device, measures cryogenic engines on the spacecraft throughout the mission. Data files were collected and many were downloaded for analysis. During the pre-launch fuel loading phase, the instrument collected data that was downloaded and analyzed in near real time. Data was also collected during the microgravity transit phase of the mission. This analysis continued until the landing on the moon.

Another NASA instrument that Navigation demonstrator lunar node 1, integrates navigation and communication functions. This scientific instrument was in operation daily during the cruise phase. The beacon is intended to provide precise geolocation and navigation observations for orbiters, landers and surface personnel, and to digitally confirm their positions on the Moon in relation to other spacecraft, ground stations or moving rovers. The checkout helps prepare for landing on the Moon, as the navigation demonstrator is designed to collect this data for the duration of the surface operations phase of the mission.

In total, The ship carries six payloads from NASA, which will also study the interactions between space weather and the lunar surface, as well as radio astronomy.

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