NASA’s Lunar Flashlight mission efficiently launched on Dec. 11, 2022, to start its four-month journey to the Moon, the place the small satellite tv for pc, or SmallSat, will take a look at a number of new applied sciences with a aim of on the lookout for hidden floor ice on the lunar South Pole. Whereas the SmallSat is basically wholesome and speaking with NASA’s Deep Area Community, the mission operations crew has found that three of its 4 thrusters are underperforming.
The mission crew, which first noticed the lowered thrust three days after launch, is working to investigate the problem and supply attainable options. Throughout its cruise, Lunar Flashlight’s propulsion system has operated for short-duration pulses of up to a few seconds at a time. Primarily based on floor testing, the crew thinks that the underperformance could be attributable to obstructions within the gas traces that could be limiting the propellant movement to the thrusters.
The crew plans to quickly function the thrusters for for much longer durations, hoping to filter out any potential thruster gas line obstructions whereas finishing up trajectory correction maneuvers that may maintain the SmallSat heading in the right direction to achieve its deliberate orbit across the Moon. In case the propulsion system cannot be restored to full efficiency, the mission crew is drawing up different plans to perform these maneuvers utilizing the propulsion system with its present reduced-thrust functionality. Lunar Flashlight might want to carry out every day trajectory correction maneuvers beginning in early February to achieve lunar orbit about 4 months from now.
Swooping low over the Moon’s floor, the briefcase-size SmallSat will use a brand new laser reflectometer constructed with 4 near-infrared lasers to shine a light-weight into the completely shadowed craters on the lunar South Pole to detect floor ice. To attain this aim with the restricted quantity of propellent it is constructed to hold, Lunar Flashlight will make use of an energy-efficient near-rectilinear halo orbit, taking it inside 9 miles (15 kilometers) of the lunar South Pole and 43,000 miles (70,000 kilometers) away at its farthest level.
Just one different spacecraft has employed any such orbit: NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Expertise Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) mission, which launched in June 2022 to a distinct near-rectilinear halo orbit, the identical one that’s deliberate for Gateway. CAPSTONE additionally skilled difficulties throughout its journey to the Moon, and a number of the NASA groups who helped the SmallSat attain its deliberate orbit are lending their experience to assist resolve Lunar Flashlight’s thruster points.
Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Lunar Flashlight is the primary interplanetary spacecraft to make use of a brand new type of “inexperienced” propellant, known as Superior Spacecraft Energetic Non-Poisonous (ASCENT), that’s safer to move and retailer than the generally used propellants comparable to hydrazine. One of many mission’s main objectives is to reveal this know-how for future use. The propellant was efficiently examined with a earlier NASA know-how demonstration mission in Earth orbit.
Different methods on Lunar Flashlight are performing nicely, together with the never-before-flown Sphinx flight laptop, developed by JPL as a low-power, radiation-tolerant possibility for SmallSats. Additionally performing as designed, Lunar Flashlight’s upgraded Iris radio – which is used to speak with the Deep Area Community – encompasses a new precision navigation functionality that future small spacecraft will use to rendezvous and land on different photo voltaic system our bodies. Extra new and groundbreaking methods, such because the mission’s laser reflectometer, will likely be examined within the coming weeks earlier than the mission enters lunar orbit.
Additional updates on the standing of the mission will likely be posted to NASA’s Small Satellite Missions blog.
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Chinese scientists discover ubiquitous, increasing ferric iron on lunar surface
Guangzhou, China (SPX) Jan 10, 2023
The Moon has been thought-about extraordinarily reductive for the reason that Apollo period, as estimated by the low ferric iron content material in lunar samples returned within the Nineteen Seventies. As well as, it has lengthy been a thriller whether or not a considerable amount of ferric iron exists on the Moon and the way it’s fashioned.
Not too long ago, nevertheless, a analysis crew led by Profs. XU Yigang and HE Hongping from the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry of the Chinese language Academy of Sciences has found that prime ferric iron content material is current in agglutinate gl … read more
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