April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

PRIVATE MOON LANDER ODYSSEUS

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TAG: GS 3: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

THE CONTEXT: The moon lander, Odysseus, created by Houston-based Intuitive Machines, made history as the first private spacecraft to reach the lunar surface and the first from the United States since 1972.

EXPLANATION:

  • However, its triumph was accompanied by challenges, with the lander described as being tipped over sideways.

Post-Landing Status:

  • Despite the unconventional landing with the lander resting on its side, CEO reassured that Odysseus is “alive and well.”
  • The unique touchdown saw one of its six landing feet catching on the lunar surface, resulting in the lander propping up sideways on a rock near the intended landing site close to the Malapert A crater in the moon’s south pole region.
  • The Intuitive Machines team maintained communication with Odysseus, allowing them to send commands to the vehicle.
  • The stability of the lander near the targeted landing site, alleviating concerns about the impact of the sideways position on its functionality have been emphasized.
  • Initial reports suggested that the lander had landed upright based on telemetry from before the landing.
  • However, Altemus clarified that this conclusion was faulty, highlighting the importance of real-time data and post-landing assessments.

Mission Success and Flawless Performance:

  • The spacecraft, powered by a propulsion fuel combination of liquid methane and liquid oxygen, successfully completed its journey to the lunar surface.
  • Odysseus showcased technological milestones, including burning liquid methane and liquid oxygen for the first time in space.
  • The successful utilization of these propellants marks a significant achievement in space exploration.

Communication Challenges and Uncertainty:

  • The mission encountered challenges during the final approach and descent, with issues arising in the lander’s navigation system.
  • Engineers on the ground had to implement an untested work-around to address the problem at the last moment.
  • After an anticipated radio blackout, the re-establishment of communication was faint, leaving mission control uncertain about the lander’s precise condition and position.

Recharging and Scientific Payload:

  • The spacecraft is reported to be recharging efficiently from solar energy, and it is currently at full charge.
  • Odysseus carries a suite of scientific experiments for NASA and commercial customers, designed to operate for seven days on solar energy before the polar landing site experiences sunset.

Conclusion:

  • Odysseus’s successful lunar landing, despite the unexpected sideways positioning, represents a remarkable achievement in private space exploration. The challenges faced during descent and the subsequent reassurances from Intuitive Machines highlight the complexities and uncertainties inherent in pioneering space missions. As communication is maintained and the lander continues its scientific operations, the mission holds promise for advancing private space capabilities and contributing to lunar exploration.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND BASICS OF THE MISSION, KINDLY REFER TO THE 23RD  OF FEBRUARY 2024 DNA TOPIC

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/us-moon-lander-described-as-tipped-over-sideways-but-alive-and-well-on-lunar-surface/article67881027.ece

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