National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
News & Events
First ARTEMIS Spacecraft Successfully Enters Lunar Orbit
First ARTEMIS Spacecraft Successfully Enters Lunar Orbit
28 Jun 2011
(Source: NASA/GSFC)

Mission Update

The predicted path for ARTEMIS P1 as it enters lunar orbit. Credit: NASA/Goddard/D. Folta

The first of two ARTEMIS ("Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon's Interaction with the Sun") spacecraft is now in its lunar orbit.

On June 22, ARTEMIS P1 began firing its thrusters to move out of its kidney-shaped "libration" orbit on one side of the moon, where it has been since January. Three successive maneuvers were used to kick the spacecraft out of its orbit and send it on a trajectory toward the moon.

It continued on that path until June 27 at 10:04 a.m. EDT when the spacecraft was about 2,400 miles from the moon. At that point, flight engineers at UC Berkeley issued the first commands to move it into orbit around the moon. Two more maneuvers helped fine-tune the position, and as of 12:30 p.m. EDT, ARTEMIS P1 is now in lunar orbit.

This is the culmination of a complex, two-year journey that relied predominantly on gravity boosts and used minimal fuel. The path from its orbit around Earth to the moon was developed and orchestrated by engineers at the NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif., and University of California at Berkeley.

The engineers will watch the ARTEMIS P1 orbit closely over the next few days in case additional adjustments are required. Engineers are set to move the second spacecraft, ARTEMIS P2, into position on July 17.

ARTEMIS is the first mission ever to orbit the moon's Lagrangian points - points on either side of the moon where the moon and Earth's gravity balance perfectly. It is also the first to attempt to move from the Lagrangian to lunar orbit.

The ARTEMIS mission uses two of the five in-orbit spacecraft from another NASA Heliophysics constellation of satellites called THEMIS that were launched in 2007 and successfully completed their mission in 2010. The ARTEMIS mission allowed NASA to repurpose two in-orbit spacecraft to extend their useful science mission.

A simulation of the ARTEMIS P1 entering lunar orbit viewed from the perspective of the spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Goddard/D. Folta

Related Link:


Karen C. Fox
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

News Archive Search  Go!
Show  results per page
 
 
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 28 Jun 2011