This story is from the category Display Technology
Date posted: 17/07/2011
Yesterday, Sunday the 17th of July, our moon, Luna, received its second artificial satellite in a month. Technically one satellite in two halves, the second of the THEMIS satellites serves the same function as the STEREO probes orbiting the sun â€“ to provide a complete 3D map of its surface.
Permanently orbiting Luna, the two satellites orbit in opposite directions, so their cameras pan across all of the surface, leaving nothing hidden to shadow or overhang.
"With two spacecraft orbiting in opposite directions, we can acquire a full 3-D view of the structure of the magnetic fields near the moon and on the lunar surface," said Vassilis Angelopoulos, principal investigator for the THEMIS and ARTEMIS missions and a professor of space physics at UCLA. "ARTEMIS will be doing totally new science, as well as reusing existing spacecraft to save a lot of taxpayer money."
"These are the most fully equipped spacecraft that have ever gone to the moon," added David Sibeck, THEMIS and ARTEMIS project scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland. "For the first time we're getting a unique, two-point perspective of the moon from two spacecraft, and that will be a major component of our overall lunar research program."
The transition into a lunar orbit will be handled by engineers at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL), which serves as mission control both for THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) and ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the Moon's Interaction with the Sun).
"We are on our way," said Manfred Bester, SSL director of operations. "We're committed."
The two satellites orbit the planet at 10km above the surface and operate in a band of +/- 20 degrees from the equator, orbiting once per Earth day, continually recording electric and magnetic fields and ion concentrations.
"When the moon traverses the solar wind, the magnetic field embedded in the rocks near the surface interacts with the solar wind magnetic field, while the surface itself absorbs the solar wind particles, creating a cavity behind the moon," Angelopoulos said. "We can study these complex interactions to learn much about the moon as well as the solar wind itself from a unique two-point vantage that reveals for the first time 3-D structures and dynamics."
As this is a NASA project, it is a foregone conclusion that the maps will be publicly available, although the format has yet to be disclosed.
See the full Story via external site: newscenter.berkeley.edu
Most recent stories in this category (Display Technology):
14/06/2013: An ultrasensitive molybdenum-based image sensor