The American lunar probe Odysseus will soon be mothballed

The American lunar probe Odysseus will soon be mothballed

The American probe Odysseus, which has been on the moon for almost a week, will soon be set at the end of its main mission, which was declared a “success” on Wednesday by NASA and the American company that developed it, Intuitive Machines, despite the difficulties ” was encountered.

Last Thursday, Odysseus became the first private probe to land on the moon and the first American spacecraft since the end of the Apollo program in 1972. However, after an eventful descent, it landed at an angle on the lunar surface.

“Despite this, we received data from all cargoes, both private and NASA,” emphasized Steve Altemus, CEO and co-founder of Intuitive Machines, at a press conference. The mission we have carried out has been a great success so far.

The boss even announced a surprise: Intuitive Machines will try to make Odysseus shine again in two or three weeks after the lunar night is over.

However, it is very uncertain whether the device, especially its batteries, will survive the upcoming freezing cold.

The moon will be shut down for now, said Steve Altemus.

The lunar lander is powered by its solar panels and was therefore intended to be switched off during the lunar night from the start. Contact was expected to break off within a few hours of the press conference.

A lunar probe.

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Odysseus' ground operations are expected to last at most about seven days before night falls over the lunar south pole.

Photo: Portal / Intuitive Machines

A stunning photo released Wednesday highlights the challenges, showing at least one of the probe's six legs broken at the time of landing, with the still-running engine churning out projections of lunar dust.

An error in the lander's navigation system had made its final descent difficult.

It approached the ground too quickly, with an unexpected horizontal residual movement, and therefore skidded on the surface, the CEO explained. Once placed, it tipped over.

Because Odysseus is on a slight slope, possibly leaning on one of his tanks on one side, he is tilted about 30 degrees, according to Intuitive Machines.

Another image, where we can see a probe tip and the black of a nearby crater, confirmed this position.

A small camera-equipped craft called EagleCam, developed by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, was launched from the lander to take a picture of its exterior, but failed to deliver the long-awaited shot.

This private mission was launched largely thanks to funding from NASA, which contracted Intuitive Machines to transport six scientific instruments to the moon – a contract worth $118 million.

From NASA's perspective, Odysseus is a success.

Scientists have already begun studying radio waves recorded from Earth using one of the instruments.

Another was unable to analyze the amount of dust thrown up during descent as planned, but was still able to ignite on the ground.

Odysseus is the probe that landed furthest south on the Moon.

NASA wants to explore this region before sending its astronauts there as part of its Artemis missions.

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

Intuitive Machines has two more lunar missions planned this year. All are part of NASA's new CLPS program, which has contracted with several companies to transport its scientific equipment, allowing it to make the trip more often and for less money than if it developed vehicles to do it itself.

The American space agency also intends to stimulate 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 Apollo, people have wondered why landing on the moon was so difficult, Steve Altemus reported. 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 this young company, founded in 2013. We have opened the door to a robust and thriving lunar economy in the future.