NASA Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter imagery used to help pinpoint China’s Chang’e-4 lander location. A January 31st flyover of the area may spot the lander and Yutu-2 rover.
Credit: NASA/Arizona State University

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter can use its super-powerful camera to spot the Chang’e-4 lander and rover, as it did in imaging China’s earlier Moon lander, Chang’e-3.
LROC NAC view of the Chang’e 3 lander (large arrow) and rover (small arrow) just before sunset on their first day of lunar exploration. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

 

NASA has posted a January 19th story regarding its campaign to return to the Moon with global partners.

This past month, the article explains, NASA held discussions with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to explore the possibility of observing a signature of the landing plume of their lunar lander, Chang’e 4, using the space agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (LRO) LAMP instrument.

LAMP stands for Lyman Alpha Mapping Project, an ultraviolet imaging spectrograph instrument on LRO. LAMP was developed by the Southwest Research Institute.

 

Chang’e-4 lander on the Moon’s farside as imaged by Yutu-2 rover.
Credit: CNAS/CLEP

Plume detection interest

“For a number of reasons, NASA was not able to phase LRO’s orbit to be at the optimal location during the landing, however NASA was still interested in possibly detecting the plume well after the landing,” explains the NASA-posted article. “Science gathered about how lunar dust is ejected upwards during a spacecraft’s landing could inform future missions and how they arrive on the lunar surface.”

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
Credit: NASA/Goddard Science Visualization Studio (SVS)

Since the Chang’e-4 landing on, LRO instruments have been collecting data that are currently being analyzed.

“LRO is expected to image the Chang’e 4 landing site on January 31 in a manner similar to what was done on Chang’e 3,” the NASA story adds.

Transparent, reciprocal and mutually beneficial

“NASA and CNSA have agreed that any significant findings resulting from this coordination activity will be shared with the global research community at the 56th session of the Scientific and Technology Subcommittee meeting of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space meeting in Vienna, Austria, February 11-22, 2019.”

All NASA data associated with this activity are publicly available, the NASA article adds. “In accordance with Administration and Congressional guidance, NASA’s cooperation with China is transparent, reciprocal and mutually beneficial.”

 

 

 

 

To view the NASA-posting, go to:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-s-campaign-to-return-to-the-moon-with-global-partners

 

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