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: