Tour of the Moon in 4K

Video Caption: Take a virtual tour of the Moon in all-new 4K resolution, thanks to data provided by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As the visualization moves around the near side, far side, north and south poles, we highlight interesting features, sites, and information gathered on the lunar terrain.

Music Provided By Killer Tracks: “Never Looking Back” – Frederick Wiedmann. “Flying over Turmoil” – Benjamin Krause & Scott Goodman.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at:

NASA Outlines New Lunar Science, Human Exploration Missions

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is focused on an ambitious plan to advance the nation’s space program by increasing science activities near and on the Moon and ultimately returning humans to the surface.

As part of the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, NASA is planning a new Moon-focused exploration campaign that starts with a series of progressive commercial robotic missions.


On Second Thought, the Moon’s Water May Be Widespread and Immobile

If the Moon has enough water, and if it’s reasonably convenient to access, future explorers might be able to use it as a resource. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A new analysis of data from two lunar missions finds evidence that the Moon’s water is widely distributed across the surface and is not confined to a particular region or type of terrain. The water appears to be present day and night, though it’s not necessarily easily accessible.


A Look at NASA’s Plans to Explore the Moon

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Statement of Jason Crusan
Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

before the

Subcommittee on Space
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
U. S. House of Representatives


Lunar CATALYST: Promoting Private Sector Robotic Exploration of the Moon

As part of the Agency’s overall strategy to conduct deep space exploration, NASA is also supporting the development of commercial lunar exploration. In 2014, NASA introduced an initiative called Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST). The purpose of the initiative is to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities.


Russian Instrument on LRO Finds High Hydrogen Concentrations in Unexpected Areas

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

(Via Roskosmos based on RAS Institute of Space Reseach press statement)

Russian LEND — Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector – installed on NASA`s LRO -Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter – was switched into active mode on Sept. 15, after LRO reached Lunar 50-km polar orbit, which is to be the operational orbit for the initial stage of the mission.


Water on the Moon? Maybe Lots of It…

Earth Rise

Leonard David has an interesting piece over at the Space Coalition’s blog about recent discoveries about the moon:

There’s growing chatter on the lunar grapevine that exciting news is in the offing regarding the finding of water ice on the Moon – some suggesting there’s loads of it.

Still, in tight-lipped scientific circles there appears to be heightened excitement that data from both India’s Chandrayaan-1 as well as from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) appear to have struck paydirt. Both spacecraft carry gear that can probe darkened lunar craters.

Scientists were dropping hints of major discoveries on the moon during the recent lunar conference here at Ames. There are scientific papers that are under review but would be released soon.

Read Leonard’s story.

LRO Returns First Photos From the Moon

These images show cratered regions near the moon's Mare Nubium region, as photographed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's LROC instrument. Impact craters feature prominently in both images. Older craters have softened edges, while younger craters appear crisp. Each image shows a region 1,400 meters (0.87 miles) wide, and features as small as 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide can be discerned. The bottoms of both images face lunar north.
These images show cratered regions near the moon's Mare Nubium region, as photographed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's LROC instrument. Impact craters feature prominently in both images. Older craters have softened edges, while younger craters appear crisp. Each image shows a region 1,400 meters (0.87 miles) wide, and features as small as 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide can be discerned. The bottoms of both images face lunar north.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has transmitted its first images since reaching lunar orbit June 23. The spacecraft has two cameras — a low resolution Wide Angle Camera and a high resolution Narrow Angle Camera. Collectively known as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, they were activated June 30. The cameras are working well and have returned images of a region a few kilometers east of Hell E crater in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium.


NASA’s LRO to Prepare for Human Landings on Moon


Popular Mechanics compares NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter with Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft, which was intentionally crashed into the moon last week:

The Kaguya orbiter, launched by the Japanese space agency (JAXA) in late 2007, had strictly scientific objectives. The agency set out to answer some of the moon’s remaining unsolved mysteries, not to mention be the first to map the moon using the latest in digital imaging technology. “LRO is not a science mission,” Jim Garvin, chief scientist at the Goddard Space Center and one of LRO’s founding fathers, told Popular Mechanics. “It has high science value, but it was conceived to provide engineering parameters for our eventual manned return to the moon.”


LRO & LCROSS on Their Way to the Moon



An Atlas Centaur rocket carrying the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 5:32 EDT in a perfect launch.


The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has separated from the Centaur upper stage and LCROSS spacecraft. LRO is on its way to the Moon. The trip will take about four days.

Meanwhile the LCROSS spacecraft will stay connected to the Centaur upper stage and enter into a long orbit around the moon and Earth that will terminate in their planned impact into the lunar south pole.


Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Backgrounders after the jump.


Endeavour to Launch Wednesday, LRO/LCROSS on Thursday


At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Endeavour is set to launch on its STS-127 mission at 5:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 17.

Endeavour’s planned June 13 liftoff was postponed because of a leak associated with the gaseous hydrogen venting system outside the shuttle’s external fuel tank. The system is used to carry excess hydrogen safely away from the launch pad. Technicians have removed and replaced the ground umbilical carrier panel and seal, and repair work should be complete by 3 p.m. Tuesday.

“Our teams have been working very hard over the last couple of days to get this piece of equipment fixed,” said NASA Test Director Steve Payne during a briefing Monday afternoon. “Endeavour is in good shape and the teams are excited to be back to working toward a launch on Wednesday morning.”

According to Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters, the weather is expected to cooperate with NASA’s launch plans, with an 80 percent chance of favorable weather expected.

As a result of the rescheduling of space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-127 mission for June 17, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are now set to lift off together aboard an Atlas V rocket on Thursday, June 18.

There will be three launch opportunities from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:12 p.m., 5:22 p.m. and 5:32 p.m. EDT.

Has America’s Enthusiasm for the Moon Waned?


After four decades, is America over the moon?
The Arizona Republic

The unmanned $504 million Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which launches Wednesday along with another satellite, is designed to take high-resolution photos to find safe future landing sites. Other instruments will examine radiation levels and identify natural resources on the moon, such as ice, for possible use by future human outposts.