Clementine spacecraft

Clementine spacecraft

Courtesy of NASA

Clementine, officially known as Deep Space Probe Science Experiment, was a low-cost cooperative mission to test new space technology. The spacecraft had five different types of camera systems onboard and planned to make detailed maps of the Moon’s surface, then fly on to near-Earth asteroid 1620 Geographos. A malfunction in one of the onboard computers on May 7, 1994, caused a thruster to fire, which used up all of the spacecraft’s fuel and sent it into a spin. Since no useful data could be gathered at the asteroid, the spacecraft went to the Van Allen radiation belt and tested the onboard equipment under those conditions. The mission ended when there was no more power for sending data back to Earth.

January 25, 1994

(Moon) February 19, 1994

End of Mission
June, 1994

Map the lunar surface. Test lightweight imaging sensors and component technologies for the next generation of Department of Defense spacecraft. Fly by asteroid Geographos, approaching within 100 km.

During two months of lunar orbit, Clementine provided over 1.6 million images of the Moon's surface with spectacular results. Its cameras mapped the surface of the Moon at 125–250 megapixel resolution. Clementine also used a laser to gather altitude data, making it possible to generate the first lunar topographic map. When scientists reviewed the data from Clementine, they found the possible existence of ice within some of the Moon's craters.