when spacecraft orbit the planets and take photos or take sensor readings do the cameras or sensors ever move or rotate independantly of the rotation of the spacecraft?
or is the whole spacecraft always rotated/oriented for the best shots because the cameras and sensors are always mounted firmly to spacecraft with no independant rotational capablities?
Some older missions (Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo) had scan platforms with isntruments mounted on them that 'aimed' at the object, but the mechanical complexity of them led to a gradual phasing out. Cassini, New Horizons, etc turn the whole spacecraft to aim instruments. Some like Juno spin constantly, with instruments pointing outward and sweeping across the target to get their measurements.
More info in this thread from a decade (!) ago: http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=4819&st=15
Further to that - there are some special cases. CRISM on MRO has a single axis gimbal, as does CaSSIS on ExoMars
Galileo had a scan platform and spun and despun sections of the craft. Really interesting and challenging from an engineering stand point.
Many thanks to the members who very kindly answered this question.
I would like to remind everyone, and especially new members/infrequent posters, to review the Rules and Guidelines (on the top left section of the menu bar), especially rule 2.3, before starting a thread to ask a question. The odds are very good that the answer is already somewhere on the Forum--as Explorer1 showed--or can be found via Google or other search engines.
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