A mini satellite of Artemis I missed the Moon, but all is not over

Japan hoped to reach the surface of the Moon with its tiny satellite sent on board the Artemis I mission. OMOTENASHI could not achieve this goal, but the space agency remains optimistic.

He was aiming for the moon, he missed it. A miniature Artemis I satellite, sent with the Orion capsule aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) on November 16, 2022, did not complete its mission. This miniature cubic satellite, called OMOTENASHI, was designed by Jaxa (the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency). It was one of about ten satellites launched with the first mission of the Artemis program. OMOTENASHI had a specific goal: to reach the lunar surface.

However, shortly after the rocket took off, we learned that this miniature satellite was in an emergency situation. Its batteries were drained, presumably, because the satellite’s solar panels were not correctly oriented towards the Sun.

No moon landing for little OMOTENASHI

After losing contact with the 12.6 kg machine, the Jaxa teams were able to observe it again on Monday, November 21. But, ” communication with the spacecraft could not be re-established and it was determined that the lunar landing maneuver operation could not take place », abstract the Jaxa on Twitter. The objective of the moon landing therefore had to be abandoned.

Preparing the satellite for its flight with Artemis I. // Source: NASA

However, all is not lost for OMOTENASHI. The Jaxa still hope retrieve it to use it for purposes other than landing on the Moon. The satellite has other advantages: it is also capable of taking measurements in flight, for example, to study the radiation outside the Earth’s magnetosphere (that is to say, the zone of influence of the field terrestrial magnetic).

The opportunity to travel beyond the Moon is precious, so we would like to continue working on recovery [du satellite] and carry out some of our missions », do we read on the Jaxa Twitter account dedicated to OMOTENASHI. Jaxa remains a model of optimism: even if its minisatellite missed the Moon, the agency believes it can still serve as a probe to explore deeper space.

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