back to article Orion snaps 'selfie' with the Moon as it prepares for distant retrograde orbit

Nine days into its flight to the Moon and beyond, NASA's uncrewed Orion capsule is due to fire its engines for an insertion burn that will place the craft into a distant retrograde orbit (DRO) about 50,000km from the lunar surface. DRO provides a highly stable orbit requiring little fuel, allowing NASA to fully test Orion's …

  1. MJI Silver badge

    And Wallace wanted Shaun to bring some cheese back

    As he has ran out of it.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: And Wallace wanted Shaun to bring some cheese back

      As there are no animals on the moon (except the odd rogue Clanger), is it actually made of vegan cheese-free cheese substitute?

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: And Wallace wanted Shaun to bring some cheese back

        What about the soup dragon?

      2. Spamfast
        Stop

        I'm insulted.

        there are no animals on the moon (except the odd rogue Clanger),

        Dear Sir,

        I'm insulted. We Clangers do not live on your moon. We have our own planet.

        How would you like it if we told the Iron Chicken that humans live on Venus?

        Yours faithfully,

        Major Clanger

      3. richdin

        Re: And Wallace wanted Shaun to bring some cheese back

        ...and some water bears

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Alien

    Does half an orbit

    Count as an orbit, if they don't use all of it?

    Can they get their money back for the unused portion?

    1. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

      Re: Does half an orbit

      Let's hope the no return policy does not apply to the astronauts.

      What are them horizontal lines on the moon's surface? Irrigation canals for the Nazi base, or did NASA's bubble jet run out of ink?

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Does half an orbit

        Chemtrails

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Does half an orbit

        "What are them horizontal lines on the moon's surface?"

        Poor image alignment. I don't know what sort of camera the image is from but there are single line super high-resolution imagers that get used on space projects. It can be easier to make a single line of really high quality photosites rather than an entire 2D sensor that you would find in a DSLR. It's important for every pixel to register light in exactly the same way down to a whole bunch of decimal places.

        1. Muscleguy

          Re: Does half an orbit

          Exactly, I have made many photo montages especially physical ones, for science research. I recognise the effect.

      3. cosmodrome

        Re: Does half an orbit

        Moire effect from the laser-printed moon not being perfectly aligned with studio camera.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Does half an orbit

          "Moire effect from the laser-printed moon not being perfectly aligned with studio camera."

          Yeah, tell Buzz that. Just be prepared to duck.

    2. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Does half an orbit

      1 yes

      2 no

      Addendum 1 in principle. Should they not do the orbit exit burn (whatever the correct name is) they'd continue around the moon. Hence orbit.

  3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

    Computers, of course, but remember Apollo astronauts having to constantly use the sextant to verify/determine position and orientation? Now we have a (poorly positioned) star tracker to do all that automatically (at least, when the thrusters aren't firing). And cameras. LOTS of cameras. Solar panels to (I assume) replace fuel cells (which may make a return as live astronauts need oxygen).

    While I always got the sense that Apollo, though a huge effort, was just a tad bit *beyond* the bleeding edge of technology, Artemis seems to have used what we have learned since then to be more comfortably in the technological "sweet spot". Here's wishing NASA a successful mission and many more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

      One of the main lessons from the Apollo missions was that reliability is more important than capabilities. That's why they still use CPUs from the turn of the century, they know exactly how they work and more importantly how they fail.

      1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

        Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

        And even more important than knowing how they fail, is having access to hardened versions that are far less prone to the failures in the first place. One important failure mode is that inbound cosmic radiation can cause random state changes in circuits - and the smaller the circuits (c.f. modern CPUs using ever smaller feature sizes for higher speeds) the bigger the problem. So using older electronics with larger feature sizes, and encapsulated with a view to reducing such radiation impacts, means less risk of a random state change which could lead to failure.

      2. nijam Silver badge

        Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

        > ... and more importantly how they fail.

        Because most of them already have.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

        "That's why they still use CPUs from the turn of the century, they know exactly how they work and more importantly how they fail."

        There are a bunch of reasons why the electronics in spacecraft are very old designs. The interval between when the technical specs are locked down and when the hardware is finished building can be a decade. The CPU choice was limited due to a much smaller number being qualified "rad-hard" spec and those many have been 5yo designs to start with since not every evolution of CPU's will have a rad-hard version. The point brought up about die scale is also a consideration. Government programs are the worst since there is time wasted trying to get the project a budget allocated once it's been outlined and that budget being mauled every election cycle if it isn't canceled outright.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

      "Lots of cameras"

      Because cameras are CHEAP these days and return pretty pictures that get people excited about space.

      Interesting fact: The cameras on the tips of the solar panels are GoPro 4s onna stick bracket

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

        "The cameras on the tips of the solar panels are GoPro 4s onna stick bracket"

        Was that a Pro-tip?

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

        "Because cameras are CHEAP these days"

        Cheap cameras are inexpensive, but good cameras are not. If you need to make critical measurements from an image, a GoPro is the last thing you would use. If you don't care about anything other than getting some sort of picture back, the price and availability can work in its favor. GoPros get used a lot because they are cheap and productions can destroy or risk destroying a few to capture some carnage close up and not worry as long as they can read the data from the memory card when they pry it out. Not something you'd do with a Panavision film camera.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

      "Computers, of course, but remember Apollo astronauts having to constantly use the sextant to verify/determine position and orientation?"

      They "had to" as it was a task for the mission, not to be used to navigate the spacecraft normally. It's a good skill to have. I learned how to find myself and navigate with a topo map and compass way back in Boy Scouts. These days I use a SatNav when I'm driving and a handheld GPS receiver when I'm off the paved track but I still will have a map and a compass. They weight so little and stow in a tiny bit of space that they are worth brining along.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

        Road safety tip: Never use your sextant while driving

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

          WARNING! Please make sure your Command Module has come to a complete and total stop before using this instrument!

          Somehow that doesn't have an authentic ring to it.

          1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

            Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

            WARNING! Please make sure your Command Module has come to a complete and total stop before using this instrument!

            Relative to what, Captain?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

              "Relative to what, Captain?"

              I was seeing it as a black on yellow decal affixed to the equipment.

              Implementation is out of the remit of the instrumentation manufacturer..

              Does nobody read colophons anymore?

    4. jake Silver badge

      Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

      "Apollo astronauts having to constantly use the sextant"

      They didn't HAVE to use it constantly. They chose to. Turned out the AGC was good enough to get the job done, and the "evil ruskies" didn't make an attempt to jam the signals from the ground controllers and their more powerful computers after all. Obviously, Apollo 13 made the belt & suspenders[0] approach make much more sense.

      I remember Jim Lovell giving a talk about life in the Command Module (Stanford, late 1970s), allowing that the sextant was a good way to kill time during the long coast to and from the moon during Apollo 8 (these days no doubt they'll fondle one slab or another instead). He also commented that the long familiarity with the kit made using it in an emergency quite a bit easier in his later mission.

      [0] That would be "belt & braces" to you Brits.

      1. Citizen99

        Re: Contrast Orion's journey with Apollo

        "Suspenders" on the other hand ...

  4. Spoobistle
    Childcatcher

    On the 7th day

    Six days doesn't seem a very long term test to me, why didn't they give it a whole (or 1.5) orbit? How long are the human Sean and Snoopy going to be in there?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: On the 7th day

      They needed the soundstage for the new Marvel movie.

      (Joking - Marvel movies aren't real)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: On the 7th day

        "Marvel movies aren't real"

        Of course they aren't real. They are cheap, tawdry, plastic imitations of real movies.

        Hollywood officially went TITSUP[0] with the release of TriStar's Godzilla in 1998. It's all been downhill from there, IMO.

        [0] Total Idiocy To Sucker Underbred Public

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: On the 7th day

      "Six days doesn't seem a very long term test to me"

      In terms of a nominal lunar mission, it's very long. The limiting factor is often propellent. If the RCS system runs out of fuel, that's the spacecraft coming back to Earth as a meteor (or the moon). There are likely experiments onboard with lifespan considerations as well.

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Reg standards

    130km at 9.8 ft/s - so no chance if an embarrassing units cock-up then !

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Reg standards

      That'd be 5914.4677 Brontosauruses at 39.9389 Brontosauruses per hour then

      1. Joe W Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Reg standards

        Is that imperial hours or US?

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: Reg standards

          You were joking, but I can't replicate the 39.9389 Brontosaurus per hour.

          https://www.theregister.com/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

          9.8 ft/s = 0.1359 Brontosaurus/s = ?

          1. ThatOne Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Reg standards

            Young brontosauruses I guess?

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Reg standards

              Shrinkflation - they had to make brontosauruses smaller

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Reg standards

              "Young brontosauruses I guess?"

              I would think so. The old ones are too dang tough and take forever to cook. If you are in a hurry, have the waffles instead.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Reg standards

                The old ones make good soup, though.

  6. captain veg Silver badge

    that selfie...

    ... obviously proves that the whole thing's a fake. Like the supposed pictures of the lunar module taking off from the surface of the moon.

    -A.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: that selfie...

      There are no stars in the picture and the photos don't have the little black crosses that prove they are on the moon

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: that selfie...

        Also you can't see the prop rocks. So it must have been made in a different studio.

        -A.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: that selfie...

          The props are long gone as they though they would never need them again. The original studio was sold off and is now under part of a housing estate although some residents have reported feeling a little light in certain parts of the estate.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: that selfie...

          "So it must have been made in a different studio."

          In another one of those embarrassing cockups, they shredded all of those old props during a clean out of a NASA warehouse.

    2. Spamfast
      WTF?

      Re: that selfie...

      Like the supposed pictures of the lunar module taking off from the surface of the moon.

      I hope you're joking.

      Otherwise, have you not heard of tripod-mounted video cameras with a radio transmitter?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: that selfie...

        That's why NASA never talk about the 4th crew member of Apollo11

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: that selfie...

          "That's why NASA never talk about the 4th crew member of Apollo11"

          Turns out he was having an affair with a wife of one of the mission directors so all mention was edited out and he was left behind.

          "A smart monkey never monkeys with another monkey's monkey" ~James Harman

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: that selfie...

            And now you know the REAL reason Armstrong said "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky".

  7. Atomic Duetto

    What happened to the paint job in the capsule?

    (Half asleep may be missing something obvious)

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Composite material innit

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      > What happened to the paint job in the capsule?

      Youth with spray cans.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "> What happened to the paint job in the capsule?"

        The paint that was specified went out of production 20 years ago and there wasn't another couple of years in the schedule to test the new formulation and put the contract out for bid.

  8. Spamfast
    FAIL

    What's wrong with this statement?

    to propel Orion at 8.9 feet per second

    First, 8.9 ft/s relative to what?

    Second, (as commented elsewhere) stop using daft non-SI units for engineering reports. Only the Usains and a few others are still using obsolete units and there are only 280 million of them, call it 500 million tops including the rest. There are now 8 billion of us on the planet.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong with this statement?

      This appears to be lifted directly from a NASA progress blog at https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis/2022/11/24/artemis-i-flight-day-nine-orion-one-day-away-from-distant-retrograde-insertion/ and NASA are USA.

      I assume it is the change to the orbital velocity, it’s barely more than walking pace so a tiny correction. I can’t get my head round why that requires 17 second burn, must be very low impulse boosters.

    3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong with this statement?

      From what I understand internally NASA use proper units but convert them to outdated imperial units for reporting to the three countries on the planet that are still backward enough to be using them.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What's wrong with this statement?

        >but convert them to outdated imperial units for reporting to the three countries on the planet that are still backward enough to be using them

        But not, unfortunately, to Lockheed Martin

        Also, WTF! You can understand manufacturing the parts in the USA using medieval units and even using archaic-standard nuts and bolts. But who in the name of Cthulhu does orbital calculations in foot-poundals ?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: What's wrong with this statement?

          "But who in the name of Cthulhu does orbital calculations in foot-poundals ?"

          A country with an actual space program?

          1. that one in the corner Silver badge

            Re: What's wrong with this statement?

            > A country with an actual space program?

            No, pretty sure China uses SI.

      2. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: outdated imperial units

        I believe that they refer to them as American Customary rather than Imperial. It's quite a while since they opted out of the British Empire, and get quite touchy if you suggest that they've subsequently built one of their own.

        -A.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: outdated imperial units

          We normally refer to them as "medieval units" when dealing with the locals.

          It's also nice to remind them that they are obviously just nostalgic for the days of George III - when America was Great Previously

          1. Irony Deficient

            they are obviously just nostalgic for the days of George III

            Nostalgic for the days of George II, before the Seven Years’ War, perhaps; the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, the Tea Act, and the Intolerable Acts / Coercive Acts were all promulgated in the days of George III.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: they are obviously just nostalgic for the days of George III

              And since then, life was wild, rich and largely tax free.

              1. Irony Deficient

                And since then, life was wild, rich and largely tax free.

                Largely tax-free, no. Taxation largely accompanied with representation, yes.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: And since then, life was wild, rich and largely tax free.

                  "Largely tax-free, no. Taxation largely accompanied with representation, yes."

                  You need to go back and do some more revising so you can pass your Adams (Douglas) test.

        2. Cuddles

          Re: outdated imperial units

          Also, American Customary units aren't actually the same as British Imperial units, so calling them the wrong name just invites even more cock-ups than using such silly units in the first place.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: outdated imperial units

            My spaceship does furlongs-per-hogshead so there's no confusion

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: outdated imperial units

              What kind of furlongs per fortnight will she do?

              Pull yer chair up to the fire ... the firkin has been tapped for your enjoyment.

  9. cookieMonster Silver badge

    “ But who in the name of Cthulhu does orbital calculations in foot-poundals ?”

    No one, but Florida man would not understand anything else

  10. WolfFan

    Just barely on the far side of the Moon is not

    Deep Space. Deep Space starts, maybe, on the far side of the Asteroid Belt. Or, perhaps, beyond Jupiter orbit. Or, indeed, beyond the Oort Cloud. Just beyond the Moon is local space.

    Bah. Humbug.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Just barely on the far side of the Moon is not

      Suburban space - within easy commuting distance of Florida

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Just barely on the far side of the Moon is not

      "Deep Space. Deep Space starts, maybe, on the far side of the Asteroid Belt. Or, perhaps, beyond Jupiter orbit. Or, indeed, beyond the Oort Cloud. Just beyond the Moon is local space."

      I'll go with the heliopause. Yes, I know, it's not a fixed distance.

  11. NickE

    Get it right please

    The Correct term is Far Side of the Moon, Dark side of the Moon is a LED Zepperlin album!

    1. You aint sin me, roit

      Re: Get it right please

      Sarcasm suspected, in part because of LED instead of Led, but cannot find it.

      DEEP Floyd were of course responsible for the album Dark Side of the Moon.

      However, "there is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact it's all dark"

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Get it right please

        No Dark Side was Tom Petty. The Floyd had Full Moon Fever

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any spaceologists in the room?

    Why dont they detach a drone that can film the main vehicle as it travels along,without a course correction.Then release a new one after each course correction and eventual loss of signal. At least there will be something interesting to look at.

    Should just fly alongside as its spaaace.

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