The overturned Odysseus has less than a day left to “live” on the Moon

Four days after landing the Odysseus module from Intuitive Machines on the Moon, the team released the first photos taken during its descent. Wide-angle images confirm that the spacecraft is in contact with dispatchers, despite its overturned position, which limits the amount of information transmitted. 

The Odysseus lander took this image about 35 seconds before landing on the moon. The ultra wide angle view shows its landing legs at the bottom of the frame. Image authorship: Intuitive Machines

At the same time, images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft identified the Odysseus landing site within 1.5 km of the planned point near the Malapert A crater in the southern polar region of the Moon. That was good news. The bad news is that the solar-powered lander may have to plunge into darkness sooner than expected.

A photo obtained by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the location of the Odysseus lander, highlighted by an inset with a blue frame. Authorship: NASA

First achievement in half a century

Odysseus became the first commercial spacecraft in history to successfully land on the moon, and the first American spacecraft to do so since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972. 

The descent of Odysseus to the moon was not easy. A few hours before the planned landing, the Nova Control team had to reprogram the spacecraft due to the disabled laser range detection system. Instead, an experimental laser ranging system from NASA was used, and it worked successfully. The spacecraft also landed at a higher speed, which probably caused it to overturn during landing, as a result of which it is now lying on its side. 

Odysseus has less than a day of operation left

Despite the position of the vehicle, this does not affect data collection, although it does affect the transmission of information. At the same time, the mission can be called a success. Therefore, NASA will pay Intuitive Machines 118 million dollars for the delivery of six scientific cargoes to the surface of the Moon. There are also six more cargoes from private companies on board.

Odysseus on the Moon. Illustration: Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines also admitted that Odysseus would not be able to be in operation for a week to ten days, which was initially expected by the mission leaders. “Flight controllers intend to collect data until the lander’s solar panels are no longer exposed to light. Based on Earth and moon positioning, we believe flight controllers will continue to communicate with Odysseus until Tuesday morning,” added in the message.

Earlier, we reported that a probe heading to the Moon captured the Earth.

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