NASA Artemis Science, the first intuitive machines headed to the Moon

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February 15, 2024 at 1:05 a.m. EST. As part of NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Payload Lunar Service) initiative and the Artemis mission, Intuitive Machines’ first lunar mission will carry NASA’s science and commercial payloads to the Moon to study plume-surface interactions, space weather/Moon Surface interactions, radio astronomy, precision landing technologies, and a communications and navigation node can be studied. Autonomous Navigation Technologies of the Future. Credit: NASA

A collection of NASA scientific instruments and technology demonstrations are on their way to our nearest celestial neighbor for the benefit of humanity. Through this flight to the Moon, they will provide insight into the lunar surface environment and test technology for future landers and Artemis astronauts.

At 1:05 a.m. EST on Thursday, Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lander launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At approximately 1:53 p.m., the lander Falcon 9 deployed from the second stage. Teams confirmed that it had made communications with the company’s Mission Operations Center in Houston. The spacecraft is stable and receiving solar energy.

This delivery They are part of NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and the Artemis mission, which aim to better understand planetary processes and evolution, search for evidence of water and other resources, and provide long-term support to the Solar System. New science is involved. .

“NASA are on the way to the moon — a giant leap for humanity as we prepare to return to the lunar surface for the first time in more than half a century,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. science on the moon, but they are supporting a growing commercial space economy by demonstrating the strength of American technology and innovation. We have a lot to learn through CLPS flights that will help us shape the future of human exploration for the Artemis generation.”

En route to the Moon, NASA instruments will measure the amount of cryogenic engine fuel as it is used, and during the descent toward the lunar surface, they will collect data on plume-surface interactions and accurate landings. Technologies will be tested.

Once on the Moon, NASA instruments will focus on investigating space weather. Interactions and . The Nova-C lander will also carry retroreflectors contributing to a network of location markers on the Moon for communication and navigation for future autonomous navigation technologies.

NASA science aboard the lander includes:

  • Lunar Node 1 Navigation Demonstrator: A small, CubeSat-sized experiment that will demonstrate autonomous navigation that can be used by future landers, surface infrastructure, and astronauts, other spacecraft, ground stations, or rovers. Digitally verifies your position on the Moon compared to action.
  • Laser Retroreflector Array: An array of eight retroreflectors that enables accurate laser ranging, which is the measurement of the distance from the orbiting or landing spacecraft to the reflector on the lander. The array is a passive optical instrument and will serve as a permanent location marker on the Moon for decades to come.
  • Navigation Doppler lidar for accurate speed and range sensing: Lidar-based (light detection and ranging) guidance system for descent and landing. The device works on the same principles as radar but uses laser pulses emitted by three optical telescopes. It will measure speed, direction and altitude with high accuracy during descent and touchdown.
  • Radio Frequency Mass Gauge: Demonstration of a technology to measure the amount of propellant in spacecraft tanks in the low-gravity space environment. Using sensor technology, the gauge will measure the amount of cryogenic propellant in Nova-C’s fuel and oxidizer tanks, providing data that can help predict fuel consumption on future missions.
  • Photoelectron Sheath Lunar Surface Radio Wave Observations: This instrument will observe the lunar surface atmosphere. To determine how natural and man-made activity near the surface interacts and may interfere with the science conducted there.
  • Stereo Cameras for Lunar Plume-Surface Studies: A set of four small cameras to capture imagery that shows how the lunar surface is changed by interactions with the spacecraft’s engine plume during and after descent.

The Nova-C-Class of Intuitive Machines Odysseus, named Odysseus, is scheduled to land on Thursday, February 22 near the lunar feature known as Malapert A near the moon’s south polar region. This relatively flat and protected region lies within the otherwise highly cratered Southern Mountains visible from the Moon. A close landing of Malapert A from Earth will also help mission planners understand how to communicate and transmit data back to Earth from a low-Earth location on the lunar horizon.

NASA science will spend about seven days collecting valuable scientific data about Earth’s closest neighbor, paving the way for the first woman and first person in color to explore the moon aboard Artemis.

Reference: NASA Artemis Science, First Intuitive Machines to Fly to the Moon (2024, February 16) Retrieved February 17, 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-nasa-artemis-science-intuitive-machines.html done

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