PRESS RELEASE (Via RoskosmosÂ based on RAS Institute of Space Reseach press statement)
Russian LEND â€” 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.
NASA reported Thursday that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has successfully completed its testing and calibration phase and entered its mapping orbit of the moon. The spacecraft already has made significant progress toward creating the most detailed atlas of the moon’s south pole to date. Scientists released preliminary images and data from LRO’s seven instruments.
“The LRO mission already has begun to give us new data that will lead to a vastly improved atlas of the lunar south pole and advance our capability for human exploration and scientific benefit,” said Richard Vondrak, LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
An effort to use NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft to search for water in the same crater on the moon failed due to an instrumentation problem, Aviation Week reports.
On Aug. 20, the two spacecraft peered into a crater at the north pole from different angles using synthetic aperture radar units.
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.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has successfully entered orbit around the moon following a nearly five-day journey. Engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., confirmed the spacecraft’s lunar orbit insertion at 6:27 a.m. EDT on June 23.
Two NASA spacecraft will reach major mission milestones early Tuesday morning as they approach the moon — one will send back live streaming imagery via the Internet as it swings by the moon, the other will insert itself into lunar orbit to begin mapping the moon’s surface.
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.”
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.
Technicians completed connections between the LRO and LCROSS spacecraft and the Atlas V rocket at Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
NASA MISSION UPDATE
Liftoff of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Spacecraft (LCROSS) is currently is scheduled for June 17 at 3:51 p.m. EDT. There are two more launch opportunities that day at 4:01 p.m. and 4:11 p.m.
India will launch its first lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-I, in September. The spacecraft will map the moon with a high-resolution high-resolution stereo camera with a resolution of 16 feet. The orbiter’s other instruments include near-infrared and X-ray spectrometers and a laser altimeter. LRO Launch Delayed to 2009 Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
NASA will delay the launch of its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) from November to late February or early March 2009 because of a launch conflict with the Department of Defense.
The orbiter will map the moon and collect mineralogy data. The mission has a piggyback payload, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), which is designed to send the rocket’s spent upper stage crashing into the moon to search for evidence of water ice.
“Tiny green and orange glass balls brought back from the moon nearly 40 years ago by astronauts show evidence that water existed there from the very beginning, scientists reported on Wednesday….
“Their study, published in the journal Nature, could support evidence that water persists in shadowed craters on the moon’s surface — and that the water could be native to the moon and not carried there by comets.” Brown-Led Team Finds Evidence of Water in Moonâ€™s Interior Brown University Press Release
“A Brown-led research team has for the first time found evidence of water deep within the Moon. In a paper published in the July 10 issue of the journal Nature, the researchers believe the water was contained in lunar magmas ejected more than 3 billion years ago. The discovery strongly suggests that water has been a part of the Moon since its early existence â€“ and perhaps since it was first created…
“NASA plans to send its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter later this year to search for evidence of water ice at the Moonâ€™s south pole. If water is found, the researchers may have figured out the origin.”
WASHINGTON — NASA invites people of all ages to join the lunar exploration journey with an opportunity to send their names to the moon aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, spacecraft.
The Send Your Name to the Moon Web site enables everyone to participate in the lunar adventure and place their names in orbit around the moon for years to come. Participants can submit their information at http://www.nasa.gov/lro, print a certificate and have their name entered into a database. The database will be placed on a microchip that will be integrated onto the spacecraft. The deadline for submitting names is June 27, 2008.
“Everyone who sends their name to the moon, like I’m doing, becomes part of the next wave of lunar explorers,” said Cathy Peddie, deputy project manager for LRO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The LRO mission is the first step in NASA’s plans to return humans to the moon by 2020, and your name can reach there first. How cool is that?”