Pioneering thermal imaging company Thermoteknix Systems Ltd. has captured the first thermal image of the far side of the moon. A Thermoteknix MIRICLE TB2-30 thermal camera was launched into space aboard NASA’s LCROSS mission to search for the presence of water on the moon.
LCROSS payload manager and chief scientist Anthony Colaprete contacted Thermoteknix to say that “the Thermoteknix camera provided the first thermal images of the far side of the moon and also images of earth and the moon from distances as great as 560,000 and 850,000 kilometers away, respectively. The camera has work flawlessly for nearly 100 days (and counting) in interplanetary space.”
A Centaur spacecraft launched from the orbiting LCROSS craft will make a direct vertical impact into the moon on Friday, October 9, creating a huge plume of dust which will be analyzed for water by a number of different instruments including the Thermoteknix thermal camera, which will follow the Centaur down four minutes later as it impacts the moon surface. The debris plumes are expected to be visible from Earth- and space-based telescopes 10 to 12 inches and larger.
Last week, an Indian orbiter participating in NASA’s Moon water project made spectroscopic measurements of the moon’s upper atmosphere that support the possibility of sub-surface water/ice. The Centaur impact into the moon surface itself will release materials from the lunar surface that will be analyzed for the presence of hydrated minerals and will be a major step in confirming or otherwise, the existence of water on the moon. Discovering water on the moon is not only important for supporting prolonged manned visits to the moon but could potentiate the production of rocket fuel outside the earth for venturing further into space.
MIRICLE TB2-30 is the same camera which has already been used on Formula 1 and IndyCar race cars and most recently in several highly successful Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense tests. The MIRICLE radiometric aerospace qualified system is calibrated for temperature measurement in the harshest of environments under the most extreme vibration conditions.
Cambridge, England-based Thermoteknix Systems Ltd. was founded in 1982 and has been at the forefront of thermal imaging technology for over a quarter of a century. Thermoteknix has twice been awarded the coveted Queen’s Award – most recently in 2008 for innovation for its MIRICLE range of thermal imaging cameras.
Projected lunar impact is on October 9 at approximately 12:31:30 GMT (7:31:30 a.m. EDT, 4:31:30 a.m. PDT).
This first ever thermal image of the moon was taken with MIRICLE TB2-30
MIRICLE thermal image of the earth
MIRICLE TB2-30 Thermal Imager