From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : CAPSTONE satellite
Mains level : Not Much
NASA has launched CAPSTONE, a microwave oven-sized CubeSat weighing just 55 pounds (25 kg).
What is CAPSTONE?
- CAPSTONE, short for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment, is designed to test a unique, elliptical lunar orbit.
- It aims to help reduce risk for future spacecraft by validating innovative navigation technologies, and by verifying the dynamics of the halo-shaped orbit.
- It is heading toward an orbit intended in the future for Gateway, a Moon-orbiting outpost that is part of NASA’s Artemis program.
- The orbit is known as a near-rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO).
- It 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 Gateway, NASA said on its website.
- CAPSTONE will enter NRHO, where it will fly within 1,600 km of the Moon’s North Pole on its near pass and 70,000 km from the South Pole at its farthest.
- The spacecraft will repeat the cycle every six-and-a-half days and maintain this orbit for at least six months to study dynamics.