The Clementine mission —A 10-year perspective

Abstract

Clementine was a technology demonstration mission jointly sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA that was launched on January 25th, 1994. Its principal objective was to use the Moon, a near-Earth asteroid, and the spacecraft’s Interstage Adapter as targets to demonstrate lightweight sensor performance and several innovative spacecraft systems and technologies. The design, development, and operation of the Clementine spacecraft and ground system was performed by the Naval Research Laboratory. For over two months Clementine mapped the Moon, producing the first multispectral global digital map of the Moon, the first global topographic map, and contributing several other important scientific discoveries, including the possibility of ice at the lunar South Pole. New experiments or schedule modifications were made with minimal constraints, maximizing science return, thus creating a new paradigm for mission operations. Clementine was the first mission known to conduct an in-flight autonomous operations experiment. After leaving the Moon, Clementine suffered an onboard failure that caused cancellation of the asteroid rendezvous. Despite this setback, NASA and the DOD applied the lessons learned from the Clementine mission to later missions. Clementine set the standard against which new small spacecraft missions are commonly measured. More than any other mission, Clementine has the most influence (scientifically, technically, and operationally) on the lunar missions being planned for the next decade.

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Sorensen, T.C., Spudis, P.D. The Clementine mission —A 10-year perspective. J Earth Syst Sci 114, 645–668 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02715950

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Keywords

  • Polar deposits
  • Clementine
  • bistatic radar
  • Moon
  • mineral mapping