NASA probe on the moon will come to rest after “successful” mission

The American probe Odysseus, which has been on the moon for almost a week, will soon be put to rest after the end of its main mission. is considered a “success” by NASA and its developer Intuitive Machines, despite some difficulties.

Odysseus became the first private probe to land on the moon and the first American spacecraft This has not been the case since the end of the Apollo program in 1972.

However, after a bumpy descent, it landed sideways on the lunar surface. Still, “we receive data from all shipments, private and NASA transport,” Steve Altemus, CEO and co-founder of Houston, Texas-based Intuitive Machines, which developed the device, said at a news conference.

The probe is powered by electricity thanks to its solar panelsHowever, these are not optimally exposed to sunlight because there was no vertical landing on the moon. “It is currently operating on the solar energy it receives, but with the onset of the lunar night the lander will go into sleep mode,” Altemus commented.

Despite the setbacks, “the mission we have carried out has been a great success so far,” the manager said, even announcing that Intuitive Machines would attempt to restart Odysseus “in two or three weeks” after the lunar night expires

Although it is very unsure whether the device or its batteries will survive the icy cold that’s about to start.

Broken leg

An impressive one The photo published on Wednesday illustrates the challenges: It can be seen that at least one of the probe’s six legs is broken at the time of landing, while the still burning engine kicks up lunar dust.

A glitch in the lander’s navigation system complicated its final descent. It approached the ground too quickly with an unexpected horizontal movement.

Because Odysseus is on a slight slope, possibly resting on one side on one of its tanks, it is tilted about 30 degrees, according to Intuitive Machines. Another picture in which You can see the tip of the probe and the darkness of a nearby craterconfirmed this position.

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A small spacecraft equipped with a camera called EagleCam, developed by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, was launched from the moon to try to take a photo of its exterior, but failed to deliver the long-awaited shot.

Explore

This mission, although private, was carried out largely thanks to funding from NASA ($118 million), which contracted Intuitive Machines to transport six scientific instruments to the moon.

“Ulysses is a success from NASA’s perspective,” Bill Nelson, director of the US space agency, told reporters on Wednesday.

Scientists have already started using one of the instruments to study the radio waves recorded from Earth.

Another device was unable to analyze the amount of dust raised during the descent as planned, but could ignite again on the ground.

Odysseus is the southernmost probe ever to land on the moon. NASA wants to explore this region before sending its astronauts there as part of its Artemis missions.

He The lunar south pole is of particular interest for major powers because it could contain large amounts of water in the form of ice. This water could be used to produce fuel for spacecraft or to meet the needs of astronauts in the field.

Lunar economy

Intuitive Machines has two more lunar missions planned this year. They’re all part of NASA’s new CLPS program, which has hired several companies to transport her scientific equipment so she can make the trip more often and for less money than if she did it herself.

The US space agency also wants to promote the development of a lunar economy that can support a sustainable human presence on the moon, one of the goals of the Artemis program.

More than 50 years after the last Apollo, “People have asked” why landing on the moon was “so difficult.”said Altemus of Intuitive Machines.

He noted several differences between previous and current missions: limited funding, a tight schedule and landing much further from the equator. “We have fundamentally changed the economic constraints of a moon landing,” said the CEO of the company founded in 2013.

“We have opened the door to a strong and prosperous lunar economy in the future,” he added.

With information from AFP.

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