NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been caught at its own game.
the Lunar reconnaissance vehicle (LRO) has been studying the Moon closely since 2009. It has also imaged other active lunar spacecraft, such as China’s Yuto 2 Roverand even other lunar orbits (Opens in a new tab).
And now, a newcomer to lunar orbit recently detected LRO from just 11.2 miles (18 kilometers) away as the two probes were blasted past each other in their respective orbits.
Related: Stunning moon photos by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) Danori spacecraft It arrived in lunar orbit in mid-December 2022. On board is the ShadowCam, a NASA-funded, ultra-sensitive optical imager that is capable of providing Views in shaded areas by collecting light reflected off nearby terrain and light reflected from our planet on the moon, orEarth’s radiance. “
This time, instead of illuminating shadowed craters, ShadowCam captured a sunlit LRO as both spacecraft passed over a patch of moon shrouded in darkness.
The stunt required coordination and timing, as the two vehicles passed each other at a relative speed of 7,113 mph (11,447 km/h). The NASA LRO Mission Operations team at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland pointed the spacecraft relative to Downey and the Sun to allow illumination of the radiator and the back of the spacecraft, according to mail (Opens in a new tab) on the ShadowCam web pages.
ShadowCam’s high close-convergence speed and exposure time results in an LRO four times overexposed in the final image. An animation from the ShadowCam team shows LRO features captured in the image, including the spacecraft’s solar array, radiator and high-gain antenna, by transitioning from the captured image to a high-resolution computer-generated image.
ShadowCam, which builds on LRO’s powerful main camera, is being used to identify shadowed regions at the moon’s south pole ahead of NASA’s Artemis 3 mission, and map the permanently shadowed regions. (Artemis 3 will land astronauts near the south pole, the first manned return to the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972.) Meanwhile, Danuri has other cameras on board, which recently captured epic views of famous lunar features.
Near home, the Earth-observing Maxar satellite recently picked up a rocket A closer look at NASA’s Landsat 8 A spacecraft in low Earth orbit, showing how satellite imagery can be used to verify the health or causes of satellite problems.
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