Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

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A NASA Moon probe, launched in 2009 June, to improve knowledge in preparation for future human landings. It studies the Moon from low polar orbit (30–50 km) with the following instruments: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which takes wide-angle and narrow-angle photographs of possible landing sites with resolutions down to 1 m and looks for areas of permanent sunlight or shade at the lunar poles; the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), to measure landing site slopes and search for possible locations for surface ice at the poles; the Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND), to search for ice near the surface and study radiation around the Moon; Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment (DLRE), an infrared radiometer to measure lunar surface temperatures and identify possible ice deposits; Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP), an imaging ultraviolet spectrometer to observe the surface at ultraviolet wavelengths, including permanently shadowed regions; Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER), to investigate radiation around the Moon and its possible biological effects; and Mini-RF, a miniature radar. In addition, a subsatellite called Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) was launched on the same rocket as LRO. On 2009 October 9 the upper stage of the launch rocket was crashed into the Moon in the permanently shadowed floor of the crater Cabeus. LCROSS observed the impact for signs of water vapour before itself crashing into the Moon.

http://lro.gsfc.nasa.gov/ Official mission website


Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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