Science

Japanese cubesat sends home pics from far side of the Moon • The Register

Japan’s Equilibrium Lunar-Earth Point 6U (EQUEELEUS) spacecraft, one of 10 cubesat payloads aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft, has successfully returned images of the far side of the Moon to Earth.

According to the mission, the image was taken during a radio wave operation test on Nov. 22 during a lunar flight of about 3,448 miles (5,550 km).

A second tweet revealed more images.

The lunar probe was deployed to measure plasma in the Earth/Moon system and is equipped with a high-speed camera, an ultraviolet telescope and a dust sensor in its small 6U cubesat body to do its job.

So far, the mission shows all signs of going well, unlike the other Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) 6U cubes aboard Orion, Omotenashi, otherwise known as the Outstanding Moon Exploration Technologies, demonstrated by Nano Semi- Hard Impactor.

Omotenashi was intended to crash into the moon, landing softened by an inflatable airbag and a shock absorption system, where it would study the radiation from the lunar surface using a monitor and an accelerometer.

The mission was designed to demonstrate the use of low-cost technology to land and explore the moon’s surface.

Unfortunately, the cubesat’s radios stopped responding after launch. According to JAXA, Omotenashi was unable to send commands to initiate a landing sequence during the only time he was in orbit in the correct position to engage his thrusters.

On Tuesday, JAXA said that despite missing the chance to land on the moon, Omotenashi would continue to take radiation measurements beyond Earth’s magnetosphere, a target it can perform in flight, along with technology demonstrations that don’t require a moon landing.

The space agency has established a response team for Omotenashi that will investigate the cause of the malfunction and take future actions. ®

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