NEA Scout : NASA’s New Spacecraft
Recently, NASA’s new spacecraft “Near-Earth Asteroid Scout or NEA Scout” has completed all the necessary tests and has been installed safely in the Space Launch System rocket.
NEA Scout is one of the payloads to be sent by Artemis-I, which is expected to be launched in November.
Artemis-I will be an unmanned test flight of Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket. Under this program, NASA has set a target to send the first woman to the Moon in the year 2024 and establish Sustainable Lunar Exploration Programs by the year 2030.
- NEA Scout is a small spacecraft, known as a CubeSat. It is similar in size to a large shoebox.
- Its main goal is to fly near the near-Earth asteroid and collect data. It will also be America’s first interplanetary mission to use specialized solar sail propulsion.
- The Scout will use a stainless steel alloy boom to house the aluminum-coated cell.
- This wide-sized cell will generate force by reflecting solar light. The constant driving force will accelerate the spacecraft over time, enabling it to reach the target asteroid.
- It will take about two years for the spacecraft to reach the asteroid and it will be about 93 million miles away from Earth while reaching the asteroid.
- NASA has announced that its new spacecraft NEA Scout has successfully passed all required tests and is now safely placed inside a Space Launch system (SLS) rocket.
How will the NEA Scout study the asteroid?
- The spacecraft is equipped with high-end scientifically specialized cameras that can capture images ranging from 10 cm/pixel to 50 cm/pixel.
- It can also process the images after they are taken and reduce their file size before using its antenna to send them over the Earth-based Deep Space Network.
Artemis I is a crewless test flight of the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft. Under NASA’s Artemis program, the space agency aims to land the first woman on the Moon in the year 2024, and establish a sustainable lunar exploration program by the year 2030.
Near-Earth Objects (NEOs):
- ‘Near Earth Objects’ are objects or asteroids or comets that pass near the Earth’s orbit posing a threat. These asteroids are mostly made up of ice and dust particles.
- Near-Earth objects sometimes get closer to Earth as they orbit the Sun.
- NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Study (CNEOS) uses the Asteroid Watch widget to determine the time and distance of these objects when they are closest to Earth.
Source – The Hindu