On Oct. 24, 1998, NASA launched the Deep Area 1 spacecraft. Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Deep Area 1 served as a testbed for 12 new applied sciences, together with photo voltaic electrical, often known as ion propulsion, to be used in future deep area and interplanetary missions. The spacecraft, the primary in NASA’s New Millennium program, flew by asteroid Braille and comet Borrelly, returning pictures and scientific information concerning the two small our bodies. The ion propulsion engine that Deep Area 1 efficiently demonstrated allowed the Daybreak spacecraft to discover the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres utilizing that expertise. The Psyche spacecraft at present on its technique to discover the asteroid of the identical title, additionally makes use of ion propulsion. Future applications comparable to Gateway will use ion propulsion to allow human lunar exploration. Deep Area 1 accomplished its mission on Dec. 18, 2001.
Left: The absolutely assembled Deep Area 1 spacecraft ready for launch. Center: View of the Deep Area 1 spacecraft’s ion propulsion engine. Proper: Launch of Deep Area 1 on a Delta II rocket from Launch Pad 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Pressure Station, now Cape Canaveral Area Pressure Station, in Florida.
The 12 applied sciences Deep Area 1 examined included the ion propulsion system; the autonomous navigation system; an autonomous management system; a beacon system that sends easy tones to Earth to advise controllers of spacecraft well being; a photo voltaic array with concentrator lenses; an built-in digital camera and imaging spectrometer; an built-in ion and electron spectrometer; a small deep-space transponder; a Ka-band solid-state energy amplifier; low-power electronics; a multifunctional construction testing new packaging expertise; and an influence activation and switching module. Scientists additionally gathered information on whether or not the ion engine’s plume interfered with any of the spacecraft’s devices. The ion engine used xenon gasoline as its propellant and obtained energy from the spacecraft’s high-efficiency photo voltaic arrays. Though offering low thrust general, the engine achieved extra thrust than any chemical engine.
The Deep Area 1 spacecraft’s major mission trajectory, together with the flyby of asteroid 1992 KD, renamed 9969 Braille.
The launch of Deep Area 1 befell atop a Delta II rocket on Oct. 24, 1998, from Launch Pad 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Pressure Station, now Cape Canaveral Area Pressure Station, in Florida. After coming into an preliminary parking orbit across the Earth, the rocket’s third stage boosted Deep Area 1 into photo voltaic orbit. The preliminary mission plan included demonstration of the brand new applied sciences and a flyby of asteroid 1992 KD, renamed 9969 Braille shortly earlier than the spacecraft’s encounter. On Nov. 10, floor controllers commanded the ion engine to begin firing nevertheless it solely operated for 4.5 minutes. They tried once more on Nov. 24 with the spacecraft 3 million miles from Earth, and this time the engine firing succeeded, working for the deliberate 14 days. Over the following six months, the spacecraft efficiently examined all 12 of its expertise demonstrations, finishing the exercise in June 1999.
Left: Illustration of Deep Area 1 and the blue exhaust of its ion propulsion engine. Center: Blurry picture of asteroid 9969 Braille. Proper: Highest high quality picture of comet 19P/Borrelly.
As a consequence of an onboard pc crash shortly earlier than the encounter, in addition to the lack of the autonomous navigation system to lock onto the darker than anticipated asteroid, Deep Area 1’s flyby of Braille on July 29, 1999, occurred at a distance of 16 miles as an alternative of the deliberate 790 ft. Thus, the photographs the spacecraft returned didn’t present any element, whereas different devices offered good information. When the spacecraft’s major mission ended on Sept. 18, 1999, mission managers authorised an prolonged mission to focus on a flyby of comet 19P/Borrelly. The spacecraft’s star tracker failed on Nov. 11, 1999, placing the comet flyby in jeopardy. Over the following 5 months, floor controllers constructed a brand new perspective management system that didn’t depend on the star tracker, and the flyby may proceed. Deep Area 1 entered comet Borrelly’s coma on Sept. 22, 2001, and flew by its nucleus at a distance of 1,350 miles. The spacecraft offered probably the most detailed pictures of a comet’s nucleus as much as that point. Having operated nicely past its anticipated lifetime and with its perspective management gas working low, floor controllers turned off the spacecraft on Dec. 18, 2001. Its ion propulsion engine had operated for 16,265 hours, far longer than any earlier spacecraft, and offered a complete velocity change of three miles per second, the most important achieved by any spacecraft with its personal propulsion system.
Left: Daybreak spacecraft picture of dwarf planet Ceres. Center: Illustration of the Psyche spacecraft throughout its encounter with the asteroid of the identical title. Proper: Illustration of Gateway Habitation and Logistics Outpost and Energy and Propulsion Component utilizing ion propulsion.
The ion propulsion expertise that Deep Area 1 demonstrated has discovered use in interplanetary uncrewed missions and can see use in future human lunar exploration. Launched in 2007, the Daybreak spacecraft’s ion propulsion system enabled it to discover two worlds between 2011 and 2018, the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres, coming into orbit round every to conduct in-depth research not in any other case potential. The Psyche spacecraft, at present on its technique to discover the asteroid of the identical title, additionally makes use of ion propulsion. Within the area of future human area exploration, the Gateway, a part of NASA-led Artemis missions to return astronauts to the Moon, will set up a human presence in lunar orbit. The Gateway’s Energy and Propulsion Component plans to make use of its Superior Electrical Propulsion System to reach in lunar orbit and to take care of that orbit enabling common astronaut visits.