In news- NASA recently announced that its new spacecraft NEA Scout, has completed all required tests and has been safely tucked inside the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
About the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) spacecraft-
- NEA Scout is one of several payloads that will hitch a ride on Artemis I, which is expected to be launched in November, 2021.
- Artemis I will be an uncrewed testflight of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket.
- It is a miniaturized spacecraft, known as a CubeSat, developed under NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Program.
- CubeSats are miniaturized spacecraft with great potential for space-based science, exploration, engineering support, Earth observation, and relay communication.
- It is about the size of a big shoebox.
- The NEA Scout will serve as a robotic reconnaissance mission to fly by and return data from an asteroid representative of near-Earth asteroids.
- NEA Scout will use stainless steel alloy booms and deploy an aluminum-coated sail measuring 925 square feet.
- The spacecraft will take about two years to cruise to the asteroid and will be about 93 million miles away from Earth during the asteroid encounter.
- NEA Scout is equipped with special cameras and can take pictures ranging from 50 cm/pixels to 10 cm/pixels.
- It can also process the image and reduce the file sizes before sending them to the earth-based Deep Space Network via its medium-gain antenna.
- It will deploy from the Space Launch System after the Orion spacecraft is separated from the upper stage.
- It will be America’s first interplanetary mission using a special solar sail propulsion.