If all goes according to plan, a new-generation rocket from the US Artemis lunar program be launched
On board the rocket is the Orion module of about 25 tons, which currently still contains dummies, which will orbit the Moon for a few rounds, before landing safely in the sea after more than a month. The overall mission of this first flight is explained in this animation.
In addition to the enormous Orion module, smaller satellites, so-called cubesats, are also going along with the Artemis rocket. A total of ten cubesats will ride on the rocket, and are disembarked on the way to the moon to conduct various experiments.
The most spectacular cubesat has an ambitious experiment to land on the moon. This Japanese cubesat, called Omotenashi, weighs only 12 kilos and is barely bigger than a shoebox. With that size it is a huge challenge to get into the right orbit and slow down sufficiently. There is an airbag on board to ensure that the ‘lander’ survives the planned impact at 100 km/h. JAXA made a nice animation of Omotenashi’s planned landing.
Both the satellite and the lander send radio signals to Earth. Those radio signals from Omotenashi are very weak, so sensitive antennas are needed to pick them up. For this, the Japanese team relies on Dwingeloo, among others, especially when the moon in Japan has set. If all goes well, Omotenashi’s landing will happen five days after launch.
NASA has also made a call to anyone with a 9m or larger dish to receive and share the signal from the Orion module. With a diameter of 25 meters, the Dwingeloo telescope is more than sensitive enough, so we will also follow the Orion module, and share the results with NASA. We will also share all our measurements via our website.
While tracking Omotenashi or Orion, there are always at least two operators in the telescope. For CAMRAS it is therefore all hands on deck. But for a moon mission, we’re happy to do that.
The original launch date was August 29. RTV Drenthe wrote two articles about the launch related activities in Dwingeloo (in Dutch):
- Dwingeloo is klaar voor maanmissie: ‘Alle hens aan dek’
- Uitstel lancering maanraket betekent extra tijd én mogelijk nachtwerk voor CAMRAS-vrijwilligers
- Hopelijk nu echt: Dwingeloo maakt zich opnieuw op voor maanmissie
- Dwingeloo was er klaar voor, maar lancering van maanraket gaat weer niet door
The launch attempt on November 16 went well and in a next blog post we will report on the first signals we received in Dwingeloo.