Sorry for the delay in updating, Astrogator_Mike had to make the long drive home after LOI-3 and get configured back in his home base. In the mean time, Lunar Orbit Insertion Burn 3 (LOI-3) was completed successfully (within 0.6% of target) on Oct. 13, 2013. LADEE’s post LOI-3 orbit had an aposelene altitude of 250 km, and a periselene altitude of 235 km. You can see below that this has evolved over time to 220 km x 260 km.
LADEE will now stay parked (i.e. no maneuvers) for roughly a month, while the spacecraft does alternating Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) tests, and calibration tests of the other science instruments.
In fact, the LLCD has been doing really well, breaking records and having all sorts of fun: NASA Is Now Communicating With the LADEE Spacecraft Via Laser
LADEE’s current view looks like this:
Which looks like this from above the orbit:
And from the Earth looks like this:
Note that you can zoom in on any of these pictures by clicking on them.
LADEE’s last Lunar Orbit Insertion burn is scheduled for 8:33 PM PDT today. Woooo Hoooo!
Here’s LADEE now:
And from Earth:
With Lunar Orbit Insertion Burns LOI-1 and LOI-2 done, LADEE now sits in a 4 hr orbit awaiting LOI-3 on Saturday (8:33 PM PDT).
First the view from LADEE:
The view from above the orbit plane:
And the view of LADEE from Earth:
Our Japanese friend on twitter @LadeeOrbiter posted this picture today:
This is way cool. It would make a great Halloween costume!
We understand that the twitter account is an unofficial site for lunar impact flash even monitoring by amateur astronomers in Japan to support the LADEE mission. The LADEE effort to involve amateur astronomers all over the world is supported by NASA, and I’d give you the link to their site about this, except that the site (like the rest of the US government) is offline.
So try this link instead.
We also have been told that the LADEE girl in the picture ( the LIMEM@STER) is a parody of a Japanese-made game called THE IDOLM@STER. You can see a bit of that here.
The LADEE Lunar Orbit Insertion burn 2 (LOI-2) executed as planned this morning at 3:38 PDT, placing LADEE into a 4 hr orbit. Things move much faster now for the spacecraft, and the Moon is looking a lot bigger. We originally captured with a periselene altitude near 560 km but our periselene has now been lowered to an altitude of ~235 km by Earth perturbations in the Post-LOI-1 24 hr orbit. The planned periselene of the commissioning orbit was 250 km, however the small (<1%) underperformance of LOI-1 caused aposelene to be slightly higher, and thus we got slightly more Earth perturbations than we nominally planned for. The result of this is that we got a bit of free lowering from the Earth, which we’ll take! (Since we plan to go lower than 250 km anyway). So the current plan is to drop the aposelene to 250 and perform commissioning there in the 235 x 250 km orbit.
LOI-2 lowered our apogee down to ~2200 (we’ll have to wait for some more tracking to verify that exactly).
From our pre-LOI2 planning, things should now (9 Oct 2013 13:00 UTC) look like this:
And we are here in the orbit:
If you could see the orbit from Earth you’d see this:
Lunar Orbit Insertion Maneuver 2 (LOI-2) is upon us, scheduled for 09 Oct 2013 10:38 UTC. This maneuver will lower our periselene altitude from 15700 km down to 2220 km and change our orbit period from 24 hrs to 4 hrs.
The maneuver will last for 220.8 seconds, and will impart a delta-V (change in velocity) of 293 m/sec.
Right now LADEE sees this view:
And the orbit from above would look like this:
From Earth, if you could see the orbit, you’d see this:
LADEE is now in its last rev in the 24 hour capture orbit, and preparing for LOI-2, which will lower the spacecraft into a 4 hr orbit. LOI-2 is scheduled for 10:38 UTC (3:38 AM PDT) Wed. morning, Oct. 9. Here’s the view from LADEE to the Moon:
Here’s the orbit [Note: blue shows the 4 hr orbit we’re going to next. Dotted lines show the past trajectory, solid are into the future. So we’re not quite at aposelene yet.]
And finally the really cool view AstrogatorJohn came up with yesterday of the view of the orbit from the Earth:
So if you go outside tonight and see the Moon, imagine this orbit.
After posting the picture of the Moon from the parking lot at Ames, we thought it would be cool to see what LADEE’s orbit would look like, if we could see it, from the Earth. The picture below is from the Earth to the Moon, with Ecliptic North at the top. The White Orbit is our current orbit, and the small white circle is where LADEE was when I took this snap… it’s moving to the right, towards periselene; the Blue Orbit is what it will be after LOI-2, and the Green Orbit is the near circular orbit we will stay in during commissioning for about a month before we start science operations.