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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Five amazing engineering camera videos from Chang'E 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

2010/11/14 03:26 CST

Topics: pics of Earth by planetary missions, pics of spacecraft in space, mission status, podcasts and videos, Earth, the Moon, Chang'E program

I couldn't believe these videos when I first saw them: five views from engineering cameras of important events in the Chang'E 2 spacecraft's journey to the Moon. It's a thrill to see actual human-built artifacts out there in space, and I don't believe I have ever seen actual video of such key mission events on robotic missions except from rocket-mounted cameras before. You can see the solar panels bouncing back and forth after they deploy; you can see the throat of the main engine glowing with every firing; you can see the Moon and Earth swinging behind the view. I think my favorite moment in all these videos is the beginning of the "Second Orbit Trim maneuver" video, when the Moon rolls and rotates behind view of the main engine with the spacecraft's series of rolls. I get the sense of a human-built machine working like utter clockwork as the rugged, ancient scarps of lunar craters lurk in the background, just waiting for us to explore them.

Credit: CNSA / tv.people.com.cn

Chang'e 2 deploys its solar panels (video)
On October 1, 2010, shortly after launch, Chang'E 2 deploys its solar panels, an event witnessed by an engineering camera. In this video, a computer simulation shows the event and the position of the camera; then the video from the onboard camera is shown. The spring-deployed panels sway back and forth gently after deployment. After the swaying has damped, the spacecraft rolls and suddenly the brilliant ball of Earth swings into view. The camera's exposure adjusts for the brightness of Earth's clouds.

 

Credit: CNSA / tv.people.com.cn

Chang'E 2 enters lunar orbit
On October 6, 2010, after a quick five-day cruise to the moon, Chang'E 2 fires its main engine to place itself into lunar orbit, an event witnessed by an engineering camera. The Moon spins behind the view of the thruster, whose narrow neck glows with the heat of the rocket burn. The spacecraft crosses the lunar terminator (day/night boundary) as the burn continues, and the burn ends with the spacecraft still over the night side. (Of the five videos I am posting today, this is the one _least_ worth waiting for the end.)

Credit: CNSA / tv.people.com.cn

Chang'E 2 first orbit trim maneuver
On October 8, 2010, Chang'E 2 fires its main engine to reduce the size of its lunar orbit, as the Moon swings through the field of view in the background. The firing of the engine begins just after the terminator passes out of view (from the camera's point of view). As the spacecraft drops completely into the lunar shadow, the camera's automatic exposure setting adjusts brighter, making part of the spacecraft visible in light emitted from the glowing thruster.

Credit: CNSA / tv.people.com.cn

Chang'E 2 second orbit trim maneuver
On October 9, 2010, Chang'E 2 performs its second luanr orbit trim maneuver, an event witnessed by an engineering camera. Before the maneuver starts, the spacecraft executes a sequence of controlled turns, causing the Moon to swing through the field of view. The firing of the engine begins just after the terminator passes out of view (from the camera's point of view). As the spacecraft drops completely into the lunar shadow, the camera's automatic exposure setting adjusts brighter, making part of the spacecraft visible in light emitted from the glowing thruster.

Credit: CNSA / tv.people.com.cn

Chang'E 2 15-kilometer flight over the Moon
On October 29, 2010, from an orbit altitude of only 15 kilometers, Chang'E 2 watches the surface of the Moon's Sinus Iridum pass swiftly by.

They were originally posted in Shockwave format on the People's Daily Online TV website. Thanks to Paolo for linking to them on unmannedspaceflight.com and to Mark Headrick for explaining to me via Twitter how to grab them and convert them to a format I could post to Youtube.

 

Or read more blog entries about: pics of Earth by planetary missions, pics of spacecraft in space, mission status, podcasts and videos, Earth, the Moon, Chang'E program

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