Clementine (probe)

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Graphic representation of Clementine
NSSDC ID 1994-004A
Mission goal Earth moon
Client Department of Defense
Launcher Titanium 23G
Takeoff mass 424 kg (including fuel)
Course of the mission
Start date January 25, 1994
launch pad Vandenberg Air Force Base
End date May 14, 1994
01/25/1994 begin
02/19/1994 Entering a polar orbit around the moon
05/07/1994 Faulty engine ignition
05/14/1994 Mission end

Clementine was a US spacecraft that explored Earth's moon in 1994 .


With the Clementine (based on the American song "My Darlin 'Clementine") built by the Naval Research Laboratory , the US Department of Defense wanted to test a new generation of cameras, solar cells and other instruments. The moon was chosen as the target object. No US probe had flown to the moon since Explorer 49 in 1973. Using a swing-by maneuver on the moon, the probe was later to be catapulted out of the earth's gravity field and explored the asteroid (1620) Geographos . For this mission, the US Department of Defense brought the space agency NASA on board. Systems from France were also represented. The probe cost $ 80 million and weighed 424 kg.


Clementine before the start

Clementine started on January 25, 1994 with a Titan 23G . Clementine was the first spacecraft launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base , California. It reached a polar orbit around the moon on February 19. By May, the probe mapped around 95% of the lunar surface (around 1.6 million individual images in total). Due to a computer failure, on May 7th, after leaving the lunar orbit, immediately before setting off for the asteroid (1620) Geographos , the engine fired incorrectly, causing the probe to rotate at 80 revolutions per minute and using up all fuel reserves. The probe then remained in Earth orbit to examine some instruments in flight through the Van Allen Belt . In June 1994, the probe failed.


In addition to numerous photographs, references to water ice at the southern lunar pole, published in 1996 in particular, generated continued interest in research. These indications were determined with the help of radar measurements. They were considered so significant that another probe to the moon under the name Lunar Prospector was proposed and approved by NASA.

See also


  • Ben Bussey, Paul Spudis: The Clementine atlas of the moon. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 2003, ISBN 0-521-81528-2

Web links

Commons : Clementine (spacecraft)  - collection of images, videos and audio files