NASA confirmed Friday (12) End of the Lunar Flashlight questAiming to search for frozen water reservoirs at the Moon’s South Pole. Failures in the spacecraft’s propulsion system led to the early termination of the project.

Launched in December 2022, the mission involved CubeSat, a briefcase-sized satellite. would use infrared lasers to scan permanently shadowed areas of the Moon South Pole in search of water ice. However, problems were detected in three of the four thrusters at the start of the journey.

Since then, experts from the space agency have been trying to fix malfunctions, apparently caused by a buildup of debris clogging fuel lines. With this blockage, the amount of propellant sent to the propellants was not enough for them to work properly.

One of the solutions proposed by the engineers was to utilize the single functional thruster to place the CubeSat in an almost linear halo orbit around the natural satellite, making it possible to perform the scanning job. However, efforts were not enough to keep the spacecraft near lunar orbit.

Testing new technologies

The Moon Lantern mission was not a complete failure, despite its early termination, which prevented the search for water on the Moon. As NASA pointed out, the project made it possible to test various technologies. green fuel miniature propulsion systemThe first of its kind to fly beyond Earth’s orbit.

The work also included a new flight computer called the Sphinx, which can operate at low power levels and unaffected by space radiation, and an updated radio system called Iris. The latter should be added to future missions involving small-sized ships to land on stars in the Solar System.

Lunar Flashlight failed to do what it was designed to do.

The spacecraft also carried a miniaturized four-laser reflectometer, one of the main scientific instruments of the mission to space for the first time. Although it has not been used, scientists believe the equipment could detect ice on the lunar surface if it were in motion.

After crossing the Moon, Lunar Flashlight returns to Earth this Wednesday (17), 65,000 km from the planet. Subsequently, the CubeSat will head into deep space and orbit the Sun, maintaining contact with operators, and can be used in future studies.

Source: Tec Mundo

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I'm Blaine Morgan, an experienced journalist and writer with over 8 years of experience in the tech industry. My expertise lies in writing about technology news and trends, covering everything from cutting-edge gadgets to emerging software developments. I've written for several leading publications including Gadget Onus where I am an author.


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