Thursday, February 29, 2024

Goodnight Odie - Hope to Hear From You Again

I should have known that if I use a title like yesterday's, "Odysseus Freezing? Fuggedaboutit!" that I was guaranteeing it was going to shut down.  I meant freezing specifically on Tuesday as they said on Monday, not freezing in general, but the Universe does not take such hubris lightly.

Just kidding.  Odie didn't freeze and the universe didn't do anything.  Instead, Intuitive Machines shut down the lander today as the inevitable lunar sunset approaches.  In the final episode of the IM-1 website updates (probably...), the company put it this way:

Before its power was depleted, Odysseus completed a fitting farewell transmission. Received today, this image from February 22nd showcases the lunar vista with the crescent Earth in the backdrop, a subtle reminder of humanity’s presence in the universe.

Goodnight, Odie. We hope to hear from you again.

Image credit to Intuitive Machines, of course.  Downloaded from their post on X (Twitter). 

Did you notice the date of the photograph in IM's message: February 22.  Exactly one week ago.  That means Odie hit its longevity mark: Intuitive Machines had previously estimated Odysseus' surface mission would last a week or so. Considering what it went through along the way, that's remarkable.

"I think what we're going to do is kind of tuck Odie in for the cold night of the moon and see if we can't wake him up here when we get a solar noon here in about three weeks," Intuitive Machines co-founder and CEO Steve Altemus said during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon (Feb. 28).
Despite [the previously discussed] issues, Intuitive Machines and NASA both regard Odysseus' moon landing as a success, one that bodes well for the future of lunar exploration. The space agency, for example, got data down from all five of its active instruments on Odie. (The sixth is a laser retroreflector array, a passive instrument designed to help other lunar spacecraft navigate.)

"The bottom line is that every payload has met some level of their objective, and we're very excited about that," Sue Lederer, CLPS project scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said during Wednesday's press briefing.

While nobody is willing to bet that Odie's batteries will survive the extreme cold of lunar night, nobody wants to count it out, either, especially since JAXA's SLIM woke up after its long, cold night.  Last words to Sue Lederer of NASA:

"He's a scrappy little dude," she said. "So, I have confidence in Odie at this point. It's been incredible."

1 comment:

  1. Regolith is a pretty good insulator. They might actually be in a better thermal situation than if upright. If it was me, I think I would try to charge batteries to max, then run something very low power to keep temps up during the lunar night.