Why in News ?
- On 28 June 2022, NASA launched CAPSTONE, a microwave oven-sized Cube Satellite weighing just 55 pounds (25 kg.).
- Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations Navigation Experiment
What is CAPTONE ?
- According to NASA it will be a "pathfinder mission" for the gateway an orbiting outpost (part of NASA's Artemis program) that astronauts will visit before descending to the surface of the Moon.
Objective of Capstone Mission
- CAPSTONE will fly in the cislunar space (the orbital space) near and around the Moon.
- The mission will demonstrate and innovate Spacecraft to Spacecraft Navigation Solution at the Moon from a near rectilinear halo orbit stated for Artemis' gateway.
- Once released from Rocket Lab's Photon satellite bus, CAPSTONE will use its propulsion system to travel for approximately three months before entering into orbit around the Moon.
- It will validate a near rectilinear halo orbit's charactertics by demonstrating how to get intered and operate in the orbit.
- Lay a foundation for commercial support of future lunar operations.
- Gain experience with small dedicated launches of cube sats beyond how - Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond.
CAPSTONE's positon in space
- NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will serve as a reference point for CAPSTONE.
- CAPSTONE will directly communicate with LRO.
- CAPSTONE will utilize the data obtained from this crosslink to measure how far it is from LRO and how fast the distance between the two changes, which in trun determines CAPSTONE position in space.
Near - Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO)
- NRHO is significantly elongated, and is located at a precise balance point in the gravities of earth and the Moon.
- This offers stability for long - term missions like gateways.
- Artemis Mission (named after Apollo's twin sister, the goddess of the Moon in greek mythology) is a moon mission to send people on its surface by 2025.
- It will launched by NASA's most powerful rocket called the Space Launch System, or SLS.