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Ulysses sends photos of the moon landing home when time runs out| GuyWhoKnowsThings


Odysseus, the American robotic spacecraft that landed on the moon last weekHe is likely to die the next day or so.

Communications with the downed lander remain limited and will end when sunlight no longer shines on the solar panels, Intuitive Machines, the Houston-based company that built and operates Odysseus, said Monday morning.

The company also released images the spacecraft took as it descended, but none yet from the surface.

Odysseus is the first American spacecraft to land on the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972, and the first private spacecraft to successfully land there in one piece. However, during landing on Thursday nightThe lander, about 14 feet tall, appears to have been traveling faster than planned and ended up tipped on its side.

As a result, their antennas are not pointed at the Earth, which considerably slows down the speed of data sending. While some of Odysseus' solar panels were initially bathed in sunlight, they will soon be left in shadow as the sun moves across the sky. That will starve the spacecraft of power and its batteries will run out.

“Flight controllers intend to collect data until the lander's solar panels are no longer exposed to light,” Intuitive Machines published in X. “Based on the positioning of the Earth and the Moon, we believe that flight controllers will continue to communicate with Odysseus until Tuesday morning.”

Flight controllers now also know exactly where Odysseus is on the moon. On Saturday, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took a photo as it passed over the landing site, revealing a speck that wasn't there in an earlier image the orbiter had taken of the area.

Odysseus landed about a mile from its target landing site, more precisely than most previous landers. That feat was even more impressive given that Intuitive Machines engineers had to patch the spacecraft's software to bypass non-functioning lasers that were supposed to track the spacecraft's altitude.

Intuitive Machines said Odysseus was also able to detect nine safe landing sites within the south polar region, information that could prove useful for future missions as NASA and other space agencies seek to explore that region. Frozen water in the shadow of craters could one day provide crucial resources for astronauts.

As Odysseus fades away, another lunar lander unexpectedly came to life. JAXA, the Japanese space agency, reported Monday that its Intelligent Moon Research Lander, or SLIM, had revived. SLIM successfully landed on the moon in January. The failure of one of his two engines caused him to move to one side upon landing and, like Odysseus, turned in an unexpected direction with its solar panels in the shade.

SLIM came to life a few days later when sunlight hit some of the panels, but went back to sleep as the two-week lunar night descended. The spacecraft was not designed to survive the frigid temperatures, which dip below -200 degrees Fahrenheit.

But with the sun back in the sky, SLIM's solar panels generated enough power to charge its batteries and get back in touch with Earth. Temperatures were so high that communications were cut shortly after, JAXA said.

However, JAXA said it planned to resume SLIM scientific studies of the surrounding terrain once temperatures drop.




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