NASA's Lunar Flashlight satellite spotted from Earth on its way to the Moon by Indian astronomer
The two astronomers had tracked NASA's Lunar Flashlight satellite by using a remote 0.5-meter telescope in Australia.
NASA launched the Lunar Surface Flashlight Mission on December 11, 2022, it is a mission planned to use lasers to find out surface water ice inside craters at the moon's south pole, which is a part of the moon in permanent shadowed. On the same day, another private HAKUTO-R spacecraft mission was launched.
In a significant achievement, on their journey towards the moon, both the spacecraft were snapped by Indian astronomer Vishnu Reddy and graduate student Adam Battle, from University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Space4 Center.
The small Lunar Flashlight satellite is expected to reach its science orbit around the moon in April, 2023. The two astronomers had tracked them by using a remote 0.5-meter telescope in Australia. Their actual position in the sky was found with the help of data from the horizons system at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory.
In the image provided, there is a large black dot that is the HAKUTO-R lunar lander, and the fuzzy group of grey pixels as can be seen in the image is the Lunar Flashlight. And the long trails are stars.
These images were taken when both spacecraft were 145,000 miles from earth, which was 39 hours from launch. As we know the brighter the object the darker it will be so the black and white in images have been inverted. 80 images were taken according to the motion and pace of the spacecraft. This resulted in the image of stars as the trail and dots as the two spacecraft.
Lunar Flashlight is a small satellite mission planning to use lasers to seek out surface water ice inside permanently shadowed craters at the Moon's South Pole.
The small satellite, or SmallSat, was released from its dispenser to begin a four-month journey to the Moon. Lunar Flashlight will never return to Earth.
To get close to the Moon's surface, the SmallSat will employ what's called a near-rectilinear halo orbit – designed for energy efficiency – that will take it within just 9 miles (15 kilometers) over the lunar South Pole and 43,000 miles (70,000 kilometers) away at its farthest point.
Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.