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During its journey to the moon, one of NASA’s satellites broke off of the Earth’s orbit and lost touch.
On Tuesday, the small CubeSat lost contact with the Deep Space Network. The DSN, a radio antenna network operated by NASA, assists missions for spacecraft traveling to other planets as well as ones that circle the Earth.
The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, or CAPSTONE, is a spacecraft called a CubeSat.
According to a NASA statement, the CAPSTONE team is attempting to re-establish contact and determine what caused the problem. According to the agency’s press release, they have reliable trajectory data from the spacecraft’s first complete and second partial ground station passes of the Deep Space Network.
The initial post-separation trajectory adjustment maneuver might be postponed for many days if necessary, according to the space agency.
As scheduled, the spacecraft exited Earth’s orbit on Monday, completing a crucial phase of its four-month voyage to the moon.
For the duration of its journey, it will rely on its own propulsion and the gravity of the sun. The CubeSat will need to spend a lot less fuel to get there thanks to gravity.
On June 28, the mission was launched from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand using a Rocket Lab Electron rocket.
The CubeSats will orbit the moon for at least six months in an extended orbit, which is a nearly rectilinear halo orbit, for scientific reasons.
The satellite’s orbit will put it within 43,500 miles (70,006.5 kilometers) of the opposite pole every seven days and within 1,000 miles (1,609.3 kilometers) of one lunar pole on its closest approach.
After a mysterious rocket collision, a new twin crater was discovered on the moon.
The crew is hoping the satellite can keep its orbit, which would enable the organization to launch and put the Gateway, an outpost in lunar orbit. It would be essential to their Artemis program since it would give incoming spacecraft a quick route to and from the moon’s surface.
The tiny satellite will also be putting its communication skills to the test. The orbit provides coverage for the lunar south pole, where the Artemis astronauts are expected to land in 2025, while also offering a glimpse of Earth.
The NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbit, which has been circling the moon for 13 years, will be able to connect with the CubeSat as well. It will serve as a benchmark for the satellite and enable researchers to calculate the separation between the two spacecraft as well as the location of CAPSTONE in the sky.
NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System website allows space enthusiasts to follow the satellite’s progress.