IM-1 Image
IM-1 is set to land on the Moon in the fourth quarter of 2021. (Image Credit: Intuitive Machines)

In order for future lunar exploration missions to be successful and land more precisely, engineers must equip spacecraft with technologies that allow them to “see” where they are and travel to where they need to be.

Engineers demonstrated how, with a sequence of images, they can determine the direction a spacecraft is moving. Those direction-of-motion measurements, combined with data from other spacecraft sensors and information that scientists already know about the Moon’s orientation, can be substituted into a series of mathematical relationships to help the spacecraft navigate.