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Lucy spacecraft captures images of Earth, Moon ahead of gravity assist

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NASA’s Lucy spacecraft captured this image (which has been cropped) of the Earth on Oct 15, 2022, as a part of an instrument calibration sequence at a distance of 380,000 miles (620,000 km). The upper left of the image includes a view of Hadar, Ethiopia, home to the 3.2 million-year-old human ancestor fossil for which the spacecraft was named. Credit: NASA/Goddard/SwRI

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft captured an image of the Earth on Oct 15, 2022, and an image of the Earth and the Moon on Oct. 13 as a part of an instrument calibration sequence.

NASA’s Lucy captured an image (which has been cropped) of the Earth on Oct 15, 2022, as a part of an instrument calibration sequence at a distance of 380,000 miles (620,000 km). The upper left of the image includes a view of Hadar, Ethiopia, home to the 3.2 million-year-old human ancestor fossil for which the spacecraft was named.

Lucy is the first mission to explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids, an ancient population of “fossils” that orbit around the Sun at the same distance as Jupiter. To reach these distant asteroids, the Lucy spacecraft’s trajectory includes three Earth gravity assists to boost it on its journey to these enigmatic asteroids.

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The image was taken with Lucy’s Terminal Tracking Camera (T2CAM) system, a pair of identical cameras that are responsible for tracking the asteroids during Lucy’s high-speed encounters. The T2CAM system was designed, built and tested by Malin Space Science Systems; Lockheed Martin Integrated the T2CAMs onto the Lucy spacecraft and operates them.

NASA's Lucy spacecraft captures images of Earth, Moon ahead of gravity assist
On October 13, 2022, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft captured this image of the Earth and the Moon from a distance of 890,000 miles (1.4 million km). The image was taken as part of an instrument calibration sequence as the spacecraft approached Earth for its first of three Earth gravity assists. These Earth flybys provide Lucy with the speed required to reach the Trojan asteroids — small bodies that orbit the Sun at the same distance as Jupiter. Credit: NASA/Goddard/SwRI

On October 13, 2022, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft captured an image of the Earth and the Moon from a distance of 890,000 miles (1.4 million km). The image was taken as part of an instrument calibration sequence as the spacecraft approached Earth for its first of three Earth gravity assists. These Earth flybys provide Lucy with the speed required to reach the Trojan asteroids—small bodies that orbit the Sun at the same distance as Jupiter. On its 12 year journey, Lucy will fly by a record breaking number of asteroids and survey their diversity, looking for clues to better understand the formation of the solar system.

The image was taken with Lucy’s Terminal Tracking Camera (T2CAM) system, a pair of identical cameras that are responsible for tracking the asteroids during Lucy’s high speed encounters. The T2CAM system was designed, built and tested by Malin Space Science Systems; Lockheed Martin Integrated the T2CAMs onto the Lucy spacecraft and operates them.

 

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NASA’s Orion spacecraft breaks Apollo 13 flight record

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The Artemis 1 Orion crew vehicle has set a new record for a NASA flight. At approximately 8:40AM ET on Saturday, Orion flew farther than any spacecraft designed to carry human astronauts had ever before, surpassing the previous record set by Apollo 13 back in 1970. As of 10:17AM ET, Orion was approximately 249,666 miles ( from 401,798 kilometers) from Earth.

“Artemis I was designed to stress the systems of Orion and we settled on the distant retrograde orbit as a really good way to do that,” said Jim Geffre, Orion spacecraft integration manager. “It just so happened that with that really large orbit, high altitude above the moon, we were able to pass the Apollo 13 record. But what was more important though, was pushing the boundaries of exploration and sending spacecraft farther than we had ever done before.”

Of all the missions that could have broken the record, it’s fitting that Artemis 1 was the one to do it. As Space.com points out, Apollo 13’s original flight plan didn’t call for a record-setting flight. It was only after a mid-mission explosion forced NASA to plot a new return course that Apollo 13’s Odyssey command module set the previous record at 248,655 miles (400,171 kilometers) from Earth.

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With a limited oxygen supply on the Aquarius Lunar Module, NASA needed to get Apollo 13 back to Earth as quickly as possible. The agency eventually settled on a flight path that used the Moon’s gravity to slingshot Apollo 13 back to Earth. One of the NASA personnel who was critical to the safe return of astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise was Arturo Campos. He wrote the emergency plan that gave the Command and Service Module enough power to make it back to Earth. Artemis 1 is carrying a “Moonikin” test dummy named after the late Arturo.

Earlier this week, Orion completed a flyby of the Moon. After the spacecraft completes half an orbit around the satellite, it will slingshot itself toward the Earth. NASA expects Orion to splash down off the coast of San Diego on December 11th.

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Shocking! This asteroid CRASHED into Earth, says NASA; Check asteroid impact site – HT Tech

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NASA has revealed that an asteroid crashed into the Earth on Saturday, November 19. Here’s where this asteroid hit Earth.

In the midst of all the terrifyingly close asteroid flybys, NASA has now revealed that an asteroid actually crashed into the Earth just days ago! NASA keeps a watch on these asteroids by studying data collected by various space and ground-based telescopes and observatories such as the Pan-STARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey and the NEOWISE telescope. However, this asteroid was seemingly missed by all of them and was discovered just hours before impact!

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NASA has revealed that the asteroid lit up the sky as it flew over Southern Ontario, Canada on Saturday, November 19. What’s shocking is that this 3-foot asteroid was detected just 3.5 hours before impact! However, such small-sized asteroids do not pose a risk to the planet.

The tech that tracked the asteroid

The asteroid was first spotted by NASA’s Catalina Sky Survey and the observations were then reported to the Minor Planet Center. NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system calculated the asteroid’s trajectory and possible impact sites by analyzing the data. Just minutes after getting the data, a 25 percent probability of hitting Earth’s atmosphere was calculated.

Shantanu Naidu, navigation engineer and Scout operator at JPL said in a NASA JPL blog, “Small objects such as this one can only be detected when they are very close to Earth, so if they are headed for an impact, time is of the essence to collect as many observations as possible.”

“This object was discovered early enough that the planetary defense community could provide more observations, which Scout then used to confirm the impact and predict where and when the asteroid was going to hit,” he added further.

Asteroid impact site

The possible impact sites ranged from the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast of North America to Mexico. According to NASA, the asteroid is likely to have burned up upon entering the planet’s atmosphere and scattered small meteorites over the southern coastline of Lake Ontario.

Calculating the asteroid’s trajectory and impact site was a community effort with added inputs from amateur astronomers from the Farpoint Observatory in Eskridge, Kansas, who tracked the asteroid for more than an hour and provided the critical data required to accurately calculate the asteroid’s path and impact site.


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China plans to build nuclear-powered moon base within six years – The Province

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China plans to build its first base on the moon by 2028, ahead of landing astronauts there in subsequent years as the country steps up its challenge to NASA’s dominance in space exploration.

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The lunar base will likely be powered by nuclear energy, Caixin reported. Its basic configuration will consist of a lander, hopper, orbiter and rover, all of which would be constructed by the Chang’e 6, 7 and 8 missions.

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“Our astronauts will likely be able to go to the moon within 10 years,” Wu Weiran, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV earlier this week. Nuclear energy can address the lunar station’s long-term, high-power energy needs, he said.

China has ramped up its ambitions in space in recent years, sending probes to the moon, building its own space station and setting its sights on Mars. The plans have put it in direct competition with the U.S. NASA has a rover on the Red Planet and is seeking to return astronauts to the moon this decade for the first time since the Apollo program ended in the 1970s.

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Both China and the U.S. are spending billions of dollars to not just put humans on the moon, but also to access resources that could foster life on the lunar surface or send spacecraft to Mars.

In 2019, China became the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon, and later brought back its first lunar samples. The base is intended to be the first outpost on the moon’s South Pole, an area scientists think is the best place to find water. NASA is also targeting that part of the moon. China aims to eventually expand the base into an international research station.

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