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.
Astrogator Mike is in the Flight Dynamics Room planning our second lunar maneuver, Lunar Orbit Insertion-2 (LOI2), and I (Astrogator John) am processing tracking data doing orbit determination. Mike noticed the Moon and Venus over the parking lot, so I went out there with him took this picture with my phone. That’s Venus to the left of the Moon.
LADEE is orbiting around that Moon
The LADEE Spacecraft successfully performed Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver 1 (LOI-1) on Oct. 6, 2013 3:57 PDT. The LOI-1 maneuver captured LADEE into a 24 hr orbit. After 3 days (and 3 revs) in the capture orbit, the spacecraft will perform LOI-2 on Oct. 9 at 3:37 PDT. The second of 3 Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuvers, LOI-2 will reduce LADEE’s orbit down to a 4 hr orbit.
Finally, LOI-3 will be performed Oct. 12 at 8:00 PM PDT to circularize the spacecraft in a 235 km orbit. LADEE will spend a month in this “commissioning” orbit, while the spacecraft is checked out before full-time lunar science begins, and the Laser-Communications experiment will be tested.
At this time (7 Oct. 2013 7:53) LADEE is past its first aposelene, and is headed for its first periselene after capture.
The LADEE spacecraft is now in Lunar orbit. Tracking data will later confirm the precise parameters of the orbit, but based on telemetry of thruster performance and accelerations, the LOI-1 burn appears to be close to nominal.
The planned Lunar orbit has an orbit period of 23.1 hrs. The next planned maneuver (Lunar Aposelene Maneuver 1, or LAM1) is scheduled for the 2nd aposelene, which would occur roughly 1.5 days from now. For LOI-1 results close to nominal, this maneuver can be waived.
LOI-2 is nominally scheduled for 3 revs after LOI-1.