Lunar Node 1: the trailblazing lunar beacon guiding NASA's future in space exploration

NASA just took one giant leap towards lunar exploration. A geolocation navigational aid with the catchy name of Lunar Node 1 experiment (LN1) was transported to the moon by the commercial spacecraft Odysseus. In a recent NASA press release, the space agency discussed plans to implement a whole network of these "lighthouses" to guide travelers on the moon, connecting orbiters, surface explorers and potential moon bases.

"We've lit a temporary beacon on the lunar shore," said Evan Anzalone, LN-1 principal investigator at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "Now, we seek to deliver a sustainable local network – a series of lighthouses that point the way for spacecraft and ground crews to safely, confidently spread out and explore."

The little-beacon-that-could got an impromptu test when Odysseus suffered a navigational malfunction. According to Gizmodo, flight engineers had to remotely repurpose LN-1 so that it could guide Odysseus to the landing site. Unfortunately, LN-1 was one of the casualties of the moon-lander's awkward touchdown. It was only fired up for thirty minutes, but NASA sees a bright future for the tech.

NASA is working to shorten the data delivery time to just a few seconds. That speed will come in extremely handy for Martian exploration, since there's a lag time of almost twenty minutes between Earth and the Red Planet. Colonists of the future could be using it like terrestrial GPS, which, hopefully, won't direct them to take a short-cut though the Martian mountains, like an outer space Waze.

See also: NASA won't be sending humans to moon again until at least 2026