The small asteroid rover that launched last week on NASA’s lunar mission has yet to call home.
The Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) Scout was one of ten CubeSats that hitchhiked NASA’s spacecraft. Artemis 1 The mission launched on November 16th. This spacecraft was designed to navigate through a small universe, powered by sunlight. asteroid About a year from now it will be called 2020 GE. However, something seems to have gone wrong after the CubeSat was deployed.
“After a successful separation and deployment from NASA, space launch system As of (SLS) Nov. 16, the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) project team has not yet established communication with the spacecraft,” NASA officials wrote in an emailed statement. .
In particular, NEA Scout officials hope that the spacecraft’s anomalous propulsion strategy will help track CubeSats.Packed into a small satellite was a reflective silver object solar sail It will expand to 924 square feet (86 square meters), which is larger than a racquetball court, according to NASA.
A NASA spokesperson said the NEA Scout was due to deploy the sail in early December and use solar radiation to reach the asteroid. Instead, NASA officials said on Monday (November 21) in hopes that the highly visible sail would help locate CubeSats, despite the lack of communication from the spacecraft. We broadcast the command “Emergency Solar Sail Deployment”.
“If the spacecraft can hear the sound and successfully open the sails, it will be able to see it from a telescope on Earth,” a NASA official wrote. We are looking and trying to share data, which is very helpful in determining the state of the spacecraft.”
NEA Scout wasn’t the only cubesat to struggle with Artemis 1’s launch last week. For example, the small Japanese lunar lander “Omotenashi” missed a date with the moon Another NASA CubeSat, LunaH-Map, missed a serious engine fire When the moon transits on Monday. The agency added CubeSats to Artemis 1, recognizing that smaller missions are more risky than larger spacecraft with redundancy and durability built into the design.
Other CubeSats launched last week are doing wellAn Italian CubeSat Called ArgoMoon Is Successful send home great photos A second Japanese mission to the Moon and Earth, called EQUULEUS, First successful lunar flyby.
Once recovered, the NEA Scout will be NASA’s first solar sail to leave Earth’s orbit. If it safely reaches asteroid 2020 GE, the rover will likely make the slowest asteroid flyby ever, and the asteroid will be the smallest the rover has visited. According to NASA.