EagleCam team intends to deploy its camera system to capture Odysseus moon lander

The telemetry data of the Odysseus spacecraft has confirmed that the EagleCam instrument, an onboard camera system on the Odysseus spacecraft, is still fully operational, and the team that built this instrument now intends to deploy its camera system to capture the current status of the Odysseus spacecraft on the lunar surface.

The students of Embry‑Riddle Aeronautical University designed and developed this miniature satellite camera system, named EagleCam, which Odysseus spacecraft carried to the lunar surface.

The EagleCam instrument was originally designed to capture the lunar touchdown moment of Odysseus
The EagleCam instrument was originally designed to capture the lunar touchdown moment of Odysseus (as in the picture above). (Image credit: Intuitive Machines)

The EagleCam instrument was originally planned to be deployed during the Odysseus spacecraft’s final lunar descent to capture the spacecraft’s moon landing moments.

Related article: EagleCam couldn’t capture any photos of the Odysseus lander during landing 
Operational diagram of the EagleCam camera system of the Odysseus lander
Operational diagram of the EagleCam camera system of the Odysseus lander. (Image credit: Intuitive Machines) 

But that could not be done because the spacecraft encountered a software glitch with its communication and navigation system during its final descent. As a result, the EagleCam instrument was kept shut down and not deployed to ensure the soft landing of Odysseus spacecraft.

Related article: Know how NASA’s onboard instrument saves Odysseus lander from crash moon landing 

The EagleCam instrument deployment plan was changed again as the spacecraft landed softly on the lunar surface but with an unexpected attitude. Telemetry data from the spacecraft shows that it is not standing upright on the lunar surface, but rather, it is lying on its side.

Related article: Odysseus moon lander tipped over on the lunar surface during landing 

The faculty lead of the EagleCam team, Dr. Troy Henderson, said in a statement:

“We are currently running simulations which show that EagleCam should deploy a total distance of somewhere between 3 to 5 meters, with a best guess at about 4.1 meters.”

They also added, “That distance would give the device, during its ejection from the side of the lander, an opportunity to capture photographs of Odysseus’ orientation and overall health. The imagery would then be transferred via Wi-Fi back to the lander and then transmitted down to engineers on Earth for analysis.” 

Although the EagleCam team is eagerly awaiting the deployment of their instrument, the current timeline for deployment remains unknown. Perhaps it is relying on Intuitive Machines, the private US company that sent the Odysseus spacecraft.

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Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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