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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Orienteering and the Moon

Orienteering is the sport we play. Navigation has evolved from the beginnings of time and throughout history has played an important role in discovery and exploration. One of the greatest acheivements in Navigation has to be landing a man on the moon.
Sending a man as far away as the moon you need to be confindent that you can navigate safely back home. It might sound all very simple - you just "aim off" for the earth- but you would be mistaken as you have to factor everything else in like the movement of the earth, planets, stars and entire universe while your out there.
Then there is the need to be precise hitting the earth at exactly the right angle so that one, you dont burn up, and two you dont bounce of the earth's atmosphere never to be seen again! So just like orienteering the simplest of controls can some times be the trickiest to nail.
Navigation in space is not too different from orienteering at all....
Regardless of who or what is doing the controlling, there are common elements to spacecraft navigation. All navigation systems use the positions of known objects in space as well as the information coming back from the spacecraft to tell where a spacecraft is. Once the spacecraft's position is known, the flight path is plotted and thrusters are fired. -

So going to the Moon is just like one big orienteering race. You start off with a blast, race to the triangle (earths orbit), then take off to the control under a green light (TLI - Trans-Lunar Injection) when your enter the control circle you slow down (Lunar orbit) then precisely navigate, micro route choice'ing to the control and nailing it with just the right amount of fuel left in the tank. (Landing on the Moon). You exit the control fast knowing where you want to go ( taking off, then TEI - Trans-Earth Injection) Hit the finish chute (Earth's orbit) And sprint to the finish line (Re-entry)....where you can grab a drink...Splashdown!

Then when you have mastered orienteering on earth potentially you can move on to Orienteering on maps of the Universe...

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