Following successful separation and deployment from NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) on Nov.16, the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) project team has not yet established communications with the spacecraft. Teams continue working to initiate contact with NEA Scout.
On Nov. 21, flight controllers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, sent commands for an emergency solar sail deployment at about 3 a.m. and 1 p.m. CST. The 925-square-foot (86-square-meter) sail is made of highly reflective material that could be seen from telescopes on Earth if NEA Scout received the command and initiated the deployment. Ground-based observatories are attempting to look for NEA Scout and share data, which will be invaluable in helping determine the spacecraft’s status. The NEA Scout team has not yet confirmed an observation of the deployed sail.
NEA Scout was a secondary payload on the SLS rocket and is a completely independent spacecraft.
For more information about NEA Scout, visit:
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
Ian J. O’Neill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.