Odysseus snaps amazing lunar landing images; Intuitive shares insights in tie-up with NASA | Tech News

Odysseus snaps amazing lunar landing images; Intuitive shares insights in tie-up with NASA

Intuitive Machines reveals the first images taken by lunar lander Odysseus, showcasing its "scrappy" landing on the Moon's south pole. The lunar landing mission was undertaken in collaboration with NASA.

| Updated on: Feb 29 2024, 19:41 IST
NASA Boeing Crew Flight Test mission set to launch historic Starliner spacecraft with astronauts
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1/6 NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will take off on this historic journey aboard the Starliner, to be launched by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Their destination: the ISS, where they will spend up to two weeks conducting vital tests and experiments. (NASA)
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2/6 Mission Details: Scheduled for liftoff in mid-April 2024 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, the mission will evaluate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system. This includes the launch, docking, and the spacecraft's return to Earth in the western United States desert. (@NASAKennedy)
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3/6 Certification Process: Following a successful mission, NASA will initiate the final certification process for the Starliner and its systems, paving the way for future crewed missions to the ISS. The outcome of this mission is crucial for the continued success of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. (NASA)
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4/6 Exclusive Photo Opportunity: U.S. media has the opportunity to apply for a unique photo opportunity during the rollout of the Starliner spacecraft from Boeing's Commercial Cargo and Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This event is scheduled for early April, adding an extra layer of excitement to the pre-launch preparations. (NASA)
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5/6 For those eager to be part of the action, NASA Social registration opens on Wednesday, Feb. 21, and closes at 3 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 27. This is a chance to engage with the mission online using #NASASocial. Registration is limited to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. (NASA)
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6/6 How to Watch and What's Next:  If you can't attend in person, don't worry! The launch will be broadcast on NASA Television and www.nasa.gov/nasatv/. Follow regular updates on @NASA, @NASAKennedy, and @Commercial_Crew. Stay tuned for more NASA Socials in the future, and watch for confirmation emails regarding your registration status by March 1. (NASA)
Intuitive Machines
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Intuitive Machines reveals first images of lunar landing by Odysseus, showcasing its gentle touchdown on the Moon's south pole. (Intuitive Machines)

NASA and Intuitive Machines recently showcased the first images by its lunar lander, Odysseus, making a soft landing on the Moon's south pole as part of the Intuitive Machines 1 mission (IM-1). The spacecraft's orientation and a glimpse of the Moon's South Pole region were captured in these images, marking for a significant achievement in the United States' return to lunar exploration over half a century since Apollo 17.

Referred to affectionately as a "scrappy little guy" by NASA due to a tilted leg, Odysseus executed a gentle lean onto the lunar surface on February 23, 2024. Intuitive Machines disclosed that two crucial actions facilitated this smooth touchdown. The landing strut effectively absorbed the initial contact with the lunar surface, while Odysseus's liquid methane and liquid oxygen engine provided stability during the descent.

Odysseus's Lunar Portrait

The company emphasised these actions as pivotal in preserving Odysseus's capability to transmit scientific data back to Earth. On February 27, the lander captured an image displaying its position on the lunar surface, showcasing its landing legs. Despite previous attempts resulting in unusable images, this success solidified Odysseus as the first commercial lunar lander to transmit NASA payloads' science data.

Odysseus Defies Early Speculations

The operational success of Intuitive Machines's liquid methane and liquid oxygen propulsion system in deep space is a remarkable accomplishment, with over 350 megabits of science data ready for analysis, according to NASA. Odysseus continued to generate solar power on the Moon, defying earlier predictions of an early end to its mission on February 28 due to potential battery depletion.

In a surprising twist, Odysseus faced an in-flight error with its laser-guided range finders, leading to a sideways landing on the Moon. Flight controllers swiftly implemented a solution, and despite initial speculations of a shorter mission life, the lander continued to operate effectively, providing valuable scientific data.

As humanity's lunar ambitions take another stride forward, Odysseus's historic landing and the wealth of scientific data collected within a brief timeframe present this mission as a notable leap towards further lunar exploration.

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First Published Date: 29 Feb, 19:41 IST