On September 3 NASA’s jet propulsion lab (JPL) announced that they have lost contact with the Asteria satellite. The spacecraft was last heard from on December 5, with subsequent attempts to contact it proving unsuccessful.
Asteria is short for Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics and is a tiny suitcase-sized spacecraft known as a CubeSat roughly 10 x 20 x 30 cm, 10 kg in size.
Asteria was first sent into outer space in November 2017 from the International Space Station with the intention of searching for exoplanets. The spacecraft is able to detect planets by taking precise measurements of light emanating from a star, which enabled it to observe several nearby stars, With that data, scientists are able to look for dips in a star’s light that would indicate an orbiting planet passing between the satellite and the star.
NASA Loses Contact With Asteria Satellite, Meant to Study Distant Planets – https://t.co/nuMLN7TbQ5
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Asteria completed its primary mission in February 2018 and continued to complete three mission extensions. During these mission extensions, NASA used Asteria as an in-space platform to test various capabilities to make CubeSats more autonomous, some of which are based on artificial intelligence programs.
JPL’s Lorraine Fesq, current Asteria program manager said in a blog post on NASA’s website, “The ASTERIA project achieved outstanding results during its three month prime mission and its nearly two-year-long extended mission. Although we are disappointed that we lost contact with the spacecraft, we are thrilled with all that we have accomplished with this impressive CubeSat.”