Clementine (spacecraft)

Clementine was an American space probe that explored Earth's moon in 1994.


With built by the Naval Research Laboratory Clementine ( according to the American song "My Darlin ' Clementine " ), the U.S. Department of Defense wanted to test a new generation of cameras, solar cells and other instruments. The target object of the Moon has been selected. Since Explorer 49 in 1973, no U.S. probe had more approached the moon. By means of a swing-by maneuver at the Moon, the probe should be catapulted out of the earth's gravitational field and later the asteroid (1620 ) Geographos explore. For this mission, the Department of Defense took the then space agency NASA on board. Even systems from France were represented. The probe cost 80 million U.S. dollars and weighed 424 kg.


Clementine was launched on 25 January 1994 with a Titan 23G. Clementine was the first spacecraft that was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. She reached on February 19, a polar orbit around the Moon. The probe mapped to May about 95 % of the lunar surface ( a total of approx. 1.6 million frames). Due to a computer glitch it came on May 7, just before the departure to the asteroid (1620 ) Geographos to a faulty ignition engine that propelled the probe into a self-rotation of 80 revolutions per minute and all spent fuel reserves. Then the probe was performed in an orbit around the Earth to investigate some of the instruments in flight through the Van Allen belts. In June 1994, the probe failed their service.


In addition to numerous photographs ensured, especially in 1996 published evidence of water ice at the lunar south pole continued interest in research. These notes were found using radar measurements. They were considered so significant that a further probe to the moon under the name Lunar Prospector was proposed and approved at NASA.