Washington, Oct 28 (ANI): Two micro satellites launched into the Earth's orbit by NASA in 2007 have now been redirected towards new orbits around the Moon to study its space environment in more detail.
The second of the two probes inaugurated new science operations for a new mission dubbed ARTEMIS-Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the Moon's Interaction with the Sun.
ARTEMIS will help space scientists understand how the Earth's magnetosphere is shaped by the strong solar wind at the distance of the Moon and also how the Moon's own tiny magnetic field interacts with the solar wind.
It will provide the first three-dimensional perspective of how energetic particle acceleration occurs near the Moon's orbit, in the distant magnetosphere, and in the solar wind.
"ARTEMIS is on stable orbits and can provide valuable information regarding the space environment, especially during the approaching solar maximum, as well as fully explore the Earth's environment at lunar distances for the first time," said Vassilis Angelopoulos, principle investigator for the ARTEMIS mission and a professor of space physics at UCLA.
"ARTEMIS is on stable orbits and can provide valuable information regarding the space environment, especially during the approaching solar maximum, as well as fully explore the Earth's environment at lunar distances for the first time," he added.
ARTEMIS will also explore the Moon's plasma wake-a turbulent cavity carved out of the solar wind by the Moon itself, akin to the wake just behind a speedboat.
Another target of the ARTEMIS mission is Earth's magnetotail - Earth's magnetic field that is elongated by the action of the solar wind, forming a tail that stretches to the orbit of the Moon and beyond.
"We'll zip by the lunar surface for a brief time each orbit," explained Angelopoulos.
"Most of the time we'll linger 18,000 kilometers away where we can continue our studies of the solar wind at a safe distance. But over several years, even the sparse low-altitude measurements add up to a sizeable dataset." (ANI)