Website to track NASA’s Artemis 1 as Orion flies to the Moon
Ride along with NASA’s latest lunar mission on a tracking website just launched by the agency.
Artemis 1first flight of Artemis programlaunched early Wednesday morning (November 16). A Space Launch System rocket, on its first ever mission, successfully launched without a crew Orion spacecraft to moon.
Although the launch is over, you can continue to follow along with the nearly month-long mission in real time on this NASA website (opens in new tab). And if you want, you can download the trajectory data to build your own apps, the agency said.
The base website shows an animation of Orion in space along with the elapsed time of the mission, the capsule’s speed, and its distance from Earth and from the Moon. You can change the view of the Orion spacecraft by rotating the camera or moving between four winged solar array cameras, or switch between views of the mission route so far. You can also look at the spacecraft up close.
“The ephemeris data can be used to track Orion with your own software application or spaceflight telescope. They can also be used to create a physical model, animation, visualization, tracking application, or other possible projects,” said NASA author Erika Peters in blog post (opens in new tab) on Tumblr.
Available state vectors, or data, describing Orion’s location and movements in space can also be used for tracking applications and data visualizations, NASA said in separate post (opens in new tab) about the project.
The data visible online is the same as that generated by a group within NASA’s Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The group, called flight dynamics operations (FDO), is responsible for “tracking where the spacecraft is and where it’s going to be,” Peters said.
FDO receives information from Orion tracking in the Deep Space Network, which is a trio of huge satellite dishes on Earth that enable communication with NASA missions throughout the solar system. Between the tracking information received and the models generated by the FDO, the team aims to provide an accuracy of Orion’s path to be fed to Artemis flight controllers.
“Accurate trajectory is essential to achieving mission objectives, maintaining communications links, lighting, trajectory correction and more,” Peters added.
Elizabeth Howell co-authored “Why am I taller? (opens in new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).
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