The Artemis era has officially begun after the successful launch of NASA’s Space Launch System, which carried the Orion capsule into space. As the spacecraft embarks on its first uncrewed journey to the moon and back, NASA’s onboard cameras will document the entire journey.
NASA has access to 16 cameras aboard Orion that it uses to document Artemis 1. Orion is currently on a 25-day mission to a point 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the moon and back, and NASA’s cameras will help the agency keep an eye on how the spacecraft handles the journey before astronauts climb aboard. for future Artemis missions.
NASA says a specialized camera mounted on the crew module will guide Orion via optical navigation. This camera can take pictures of the Earth and the Moon, but the size and position of these celestial objects relative to Orion allow the capsule to determine its position in space. The camera also collects data on distant stars to compare with pre-existing star charts to further help Orion navigate through space.
Among Orion’s many cameras is one mounted on the outside of the capsule that points to the European Service Module, which propels Orion to the Moon. Additional cameras are used to test video conferencing capabilities and to stare into the darkness of the room. Orion also has four cameras attached to its X-shaped solar panel wings that face the capsule itself, giving NASA a 360-degree view of Orion’s exterior. Eight cameras on the European Service Module were used to document the separation of booster and core stages.
“Each of Orion’s four solar array wings has a commercially available camera at the tip that is highly modified for space use and provides a view of the spacecraft’s exterior,” David Melendrez said in a NASA blog. Melendrez is the image integration lead for the Orion program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
This week’s launch of Orion is NASA’s first step toward a serious return to the moon and future space missions. While the portfolio of 16 cameras documenting nearly every move of Orion may seem excessive, they’ll capture crucial evidence of how the spacecraft fares before it was used to take astronauts to the moon and beyond.
More: What’s next for the Orion spacecraft as it heads to the moon
More from Gizmodo
Sign up for the Gizmodo newsletter. For the latest news, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Click here to read the full article.