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Japanese cubesat sends home pics from the far side of the Moon
JAXA hopes second lost lander can be recovered for radiation experiments
Japan's Equilibrium Lunar-Earth point 6U Spacecraft (EQUULEUS), one of 10 cubesat payloads aboard NASA's Orion spacecraft, has successfully sent back to Earth photos of the far side of the Moon.
According to the mission, the image was taken during a radio wave operation test on November 22 during a lunar flyby from about 3,448 miles (5,550km).
A second tweet revealed more images.
Other images of the far side were successfully taken and were found to be at approx. 110-160°E. The images show craters of various sizes (1st and 2nd images) and the Mare Moscoviense (2nd image). 3 photos are superimposed on the lunar surface (3rd image). https://t.co/65huJ6EOuX pic.twitter.com/FSHBVO9sDB— EQUULEUS (@EQUULEUS_en) November 24, 2022
The lunar probe was deployed to measure plasma in the Earth/Moon system and is equipped with an ultra 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 doing well, unlike the other Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) 6U cubesat aboard Orion, Omotenashi, also known as the Outstanding Moon Exploration Technologies, demonstrated by Nano Semi-Hard Impactor.
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Omotenashi was intended to crash into the Moon, the landing softened by an inflatable airbag and shock absorption system, where it would study the lunar surface's radiation 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.
Alas, the cubesat's radios were unresponsive after launch. According to JAXA, Omotenashi was unable to send commands to initiate a landing sequence during the one time in its orbit it was in the right position to engage its thrusters.
On Tuesday, JAXA said despite missing its opportunity to land on the Moon, Omotenashi would continue to perform radiation measurements outside the Earth's magnetosphere, an objective it can perform while in flight along with technology demonstrations that don't require a lunar landing.
The space org has established a response team for Omotenashi that will investigate the cause of the failure and take future actions. ®