An extension to the THEMIS mission is to send two of the THEMIS satellites into lunar orbit to study the magnetospheric environment near the Moon. The new mission is named ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of Moon's Interaction with the Sun).
The outermost two THEMIS spacecraft (Probes B and C) are on route to the Moon, where they will become the ARTEMIS mission's Probes 1 and 2 (red and green, respectively) , tasked with studying not only the tenuous cavity carved out by the Moon in the supersonic solar wind, but also reconnection, particle energization and turbulence in both the solar wind and the Earth's distant magnetotail at lunar distance. ARTEMIS stands for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence, and Electrodynamics of the Moon's Interaction with the Sun.
Thanks to careful planning, sufficient fuel remained on both spacecraft at the successful completion of their primary mission to raise their apogees to lunar distance, where they could receive the multiple gravitational assists needed to fling the spacecraft first beyond the Moon and then assist them in entering in orbits that parallel that of the Moon at the L1 and L2 Lagrange points. Maneuvers in April 2011 enable the spacecraft to enter into prograde and retrograde lunar orbits (the 'braided' motion).
The direction of the Sun is indicated by the yellow arrow.
We now move the camera into a position to 'chase' the Moon, to better observe the maneuvers which will complete ARTEMIS' capture by lunar gravity. The ARTEMIS trails are transformed into a coordinate system which travels with the Moon. To see an illustration of how moving coordinate systems impact the visualization of trails, see "LRO Transition from Earth-Centered to Moon-Centered Coordinates"
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NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
Datasets used in this visualization
SSCweb ephemerides (SSCweb)ID: 538Ephemeris NASA/GSFC Space Physics Data Facility 2009-10-17 to 2012-03-17T17:01:16
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