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article imageFirst private space probe on the moon to launch this week

By Karen Graham     Feb 18, 2019 in Science
Tel Aviv - Israel hopes to become the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon, with the launch of the unmanned spacecraft Beresheet from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday.
Beresheet is the Hebrew name of the Book of Genesis, meaning “in the beginning.” And it is a totally appropriate name for Israel's very first venture into space. Beresheet is set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:45 a.m. IST on Friday (8:45 p.m. Thursday EST),
If the mission succeeds, it will be making history - As the first mission to the moon by a private company and it will be a first for Israel, making it the fourth country to land on the lunar surface, following the U.S. Russia and China.
John Horack, an aerospace engineer at Ohio State University and a spaceflight expert, is giddy at the possibilities. “Nothing like this has been tried before,” he says. “We’re looking at an entirely new model for space exploration beyond Earth orbit.”
A SpaceX Fakcon 9 will carry the Beresheet into orbit.
A SpaceX Fakcon 9 will carry the Beresheet into orbit.
SpaceX
Beresheet goes against tradition
Everything about the Israeli probe, from its funding to its engineering to its modest size, goes against tradition. The mission is not an Israeli government program. It came about due to the Google Lunar XPrize, a $30 million competition that called upon teams to land a robot on the moon safely, send it on a trek of at least 500 meters (1.500 feet) over the lunar surface, and beam images and data back to Earth.
Beresheet was born in the imagination of Yonatan Winetraub in 2009. At the time the 22-year-old Israeli aerospace engineer was spending a year at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He heard about the Google XPrize and wondered if he couldn't come up with a lander.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t find people who were crazy enough to follow my idea,” he says. After returning to Israel, he managed to find the help he needed - computer engineer Yariv Bash and entrepreneur Kfir Damari.
“The three of us sat down in a bar in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, and as the alcohol level went up we were becoming more and more determined to do this thing,” he recalls. This group of three young men founded SpaceIL, the nonprofit that created Beresheet.
In August 2017, Google Lunar Xprizes announced an extension of the deadline to 31 March 2018. The contest ended without a winner, but SpaceIL still continued with its plans on launching the mission.
Funding was a problem at first, but eventually, things did work out and the lunar lander began to take shape. But another nontraditional problem arose. SpaceIL and its partner, Israel Aerospace Industries, had never worked on a moon mission before. The Beresheet lander, from its components to keeping it lightweight and within budget all presented challenges.
All these challenges were overcome - and Beresheet, about the size of a commercial refrigerator, weighs 350 pounds, not counting a half-ton of onboard propellant. The mission costs add up to $95 million, much of it underwritten by Morris Kahn, an Israeli telecom billionaire, and philanthropist.
AFTER THE LAUNCH  THE SPACECRAFT WILL START ORBITING EARTH  THREE TIMES. AT THE RIGHT TIMING  IT WIL...
AFTER THE LAUNCH, THE SPACECRAFT WILL START ORBITING EARTH, THREE TIMES. AT THE RIGHT TIMING, IT WILL ENTER MOON'S ORBIT AND CIRCLE IT TWICE, UNTIL LANDING. THIS WILL TAKE TWO-TWO AND A HALF MONTHS.
SpaceIL
Beresheet's lunar mission
It will take Beresheet about seven weeks to reach the moon after it detaches from the rocket. The spacecraft will then circle the Earth six or seven times in a series of growing ellipses before jumping into the moon’s orbit on April 4. Beresheet will land in the Sea of Tranquility, on April 11 around 8 p.m., give or take an hour, according to SpaceIL CEO Dr. Ido Anteby.
The instruments on Beresheet will measure the spacecraft’s magnetic field as it orbits around the Moon. Lasting about 15 minutes, the landing sequence will also measure changing frequencies of magnetism as the spacecraft approaches the surface.
Prof. Oded Aharonson of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences says, “The main scientific goal will be measuring the magnetic field of the Moon. This will help us understand its source." He went on to explain that at one time, the moon's core was very hot and this energy led some rocks on the surface to be magnetized.
SpaceIL s spacecraft will land on a site within Mare Serenitatis  on the northern hemisphere of the ...
SpaceIL's spacecraft will land on a site within Mare Serenitatis, on the northern hemisphere of the Moon. This site has magnetic anomalies. This will enable the magnetometer device taking measurements as part of the scientific experiment.
SpaceIL
Some of the lander's equipment will be measuring the magnetic field of the Moon’s craters as well. This information could answer the question of whether some of the moon's magnetic field comes from bombardment by asteroids leaving a residue.
There are also a complex arrangement of mirrors onboard the lander that will shine a laser beam into the sky, pointing out its location by using NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter so that Beresheet's exact location can be pinpointed.
The Times of Israel is also reporting the Beresheet lander will be carrying "a Hebrew Bible inscribed with nanotechnology on a small metal circle the size of a 5 shekel coin, and a time capsule with Israel’s Declaration of Independence and national anthem, the memories of a Holocaust survivor, children’s drawings of space and the moon, the Traveler’s Prayer and a note from the late former president Shimon Peres."
Digital Journal will be following the launch of Beresheet, an endeavor that is already sending shock waves through the world of space exploration.
More about Israel, Beresheet, Google's Lunar XPrize, Lunar lander, Magnetic field
 
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