NASA’s newest mini-lunar probe is battling a propulsion problem on its way to the moon.
spacecraft, called Lunar flashlight, which launched last month on a mission to search for water ice on the lunar surface. The probe is also expected to test a new “green” thrust during its four-month journey to Mars MoonBut its engines have a problem, NASA said Thursday (January 12).
While the satellite is healthy and communicating with NASA Deep Space NetworkThe mission operations team discovered that three of the four thrusters had poor performance. to update (Opens in a new tab). “Based on ground tests, the team believes that the poor performance may be caused by obstructions in the fuel lines that may limit the flow of propellant to the thrusters.”
a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket The Lunar Flash Probe fired to the moon on Dec. 11 alongside a Japanese lunar lander carrying a lunar rover built by the United Arab Emirates. A NASA smallsat is designed to search for it Water ice at the lunar south polewhere NASA hopes to land astronauts a few years from now.
NASA officials said that Lunar Flashlight flight controllers noticed problems with the probe’s propulsion system about three days after launch, when it became apparent that it was moving under reduced thrust. Now, mission engineers are making new plans to fire the thrusters longer to complete the Lunar Flashlight’s trip to the moon.
“The team plans to operate the thrusters soon for much longer periods, hoping to clear any potential propellant line obstructions while executing course-correction maneuvers that will keep the mini-moon on course to reach its planned lunar orbit,” NASA wrote in its article. Thursday update. “In the event that the propulsion system cannot be restored to full performance, the mission team will develop alternative plans to accomplish those maneuvers using the propulsion system at its current reduced thrust capability.”
It’s going to be a tough recovery for the Lunar Flashlight, which is about the size of a suitcase. NASA wrote that the spacecraft “will need to perform daily course-correction maneuvers beginning in early February to reach lunar orbit four months from now.” The spacecraft fires its thrusts in short pulses, each lasting a few seconds. It uses a pink fuel known as Advanced Spacecraft Energy Non-Toxic, which is Designed to be less toxic It is the hydrazine propellant in most spacecraft.
The Lunar Flashlight mission requires the probe to enter a wide, circular lunar orbit that will bring it within 9 miles (15 kilometers) of the surface at its closest point and send it as far as 43,000 miles (70,000 km) from the moon. The moon is at its farthest point. (The orbit is similar to the one currently being tested by NASA CAPSTONE PROBE It will be used by the agency gate station for future astronauts.)
From its orbit, the Lunar Flashlight will use four infrared lasers and a new type of laser reflectometer to search for surface ice in permanently shadowed craters at the moon’s south pole. The spacecraft is also testing a new low-power flight computer called Sphinx that has been specifically designed to be able to withstand radiation in the harsh environment of space. The new Iris Radio is also expected to test ultra-precise navigation systems for future small probes heading to other destinations in our region. Solar SystemNASA said.
Lunar Flashlight isn’t the only NASA probe to encounter trouble after launch.
CAPSTONE has had its own problems, Lost contact with the Earth Shortly after separating from the Rocket Lab Electron booster in July. The probe also began moving through space after an engine burned out in September. The mission operations team, led by Colorado-based Advanced Space, has resolved both vulnerabilities, allowing CAPSTONE to reach its final orbit In November.
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