The Odysseus probe will be temporarily retired

English Section / 4 martie

The Odysseus probe will be temporarily retired

Versiunea în limba română

Life in space is not easy at all, not even for inanimate things. The US probe Odysseus, which has been on the moon for several days, will soon suspend its activity at the end of its main mission, which was described as a "success" by NASA and the private company that developed it, Intuitive Machines . Two weeks ago, Odysseus became the first private probe to reach the Moon, and also the first American spacecraft to achieve this feat since the end of the Apollo program in 1972. However, it is in an inclined position on the surface of the Moon after a descent marked by technical incidents. Despite this aspect, "we received data from all scientific instruments, both private ones and those developed by NASA", Steve Altemus, the CEO and co-founder of Intuitive Machines, emphasized in a press conference. "The mission we carried out has been a great success so far," he added. Steve Altemus also announced a surprise: Intuitive Machines intends to restart the Odysseus probe "in two or three weeks", after the end of the lunar night. However, it is uncertain whether the spacecraft - especially its batteries - will survive the icy cold that is set to settle on the moon. For the time being, the lander "will be placed in hibernation", said Steve Altemus. Odysseus is powered by its solar panels, and therefore was supposed to be shut down during the lunar night from the start. An impressive photo presented by NASA illustrates the challenges faced by the American probe: the image shows at least one broken leg of the probe, at the moment of the moon landing, while its engine, still running, stirred up plumes of lunar dust. A malfunction of the navigation system installed on board the lunar lander complicated the final stage of its descent to the Moon. Odysseus approached the lunar crust too quickly, with residual horizontal motion that was not predicted, and therefore "skidded" on the surface of the Moon, explained the CEO of Intuitive Machines. Once placed on the Moon, the lunar module overturned.

This mission, while private, was made possible in large part thanks to funding from NASA, which awarded Intuitive Machines the task of sending six scientific instruments to the Moon under a $118 million contract. Scientists have already begun to examine the recorded radio waves, thanks to one of his instruments. Another instrument was unable to analyze the amount of dust ejected during the module's descent, as intended, but was still able to be turned on after it reached the lunar crust. Odysseus is the space probe that reached the southernmost of the regions of the Moon investigated so far. NASA wants to explore this region before sending astronauts to the Moon as part of its Artemis missions. The lunar south pole is of particular interest to the great powers of the world, as that region could hold large amounts of water in the form of ice. That water could be exploited to make fuel for space vehicles or to support the needs of astronauts on the moon.

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