LRO Results Hint at Water on the Moon

This image shows daytime and nighttime lunar temperatures recorded by Diviner. Credit: NASA/UCLA
This image shows daytime and nighttime lunar temperatures recorded by Diviner. Credit: NASA/UCLA
NASA MISSION UPDATE
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.

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Joint Effort to Find Water on Moon Failed

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

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.

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ISRO, NASA Spacecraft Connect to Explore the Moon

chandrayaan-1

ISRO-NASA in joint experiment with lunar probes news
Domain-b.com

A few minutes before midnight, India’s lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 would have crossed another milestone conducting an extremely complicated joint experiment with NASA’s recently launched Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The experiment is intended to look at the possibility of water ice existing at the bottom of a massive crater on the moon’s surface.

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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.

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NASA’s LRO to Prepare for Human Landings on Moon

lroinorbit

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.”

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LRO & LCROSS on Their Way to the Moon

lrolcrosslaunch 

LAUNCH!!

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.

NASA UPDATE:

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.

OFFICIAL PROJECT SITES

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
LCROSS

Backgrounders after the jump.

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LRO/LCROSS Launch Set for Wednesday, June 17

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
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.

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NASA Heads Back to the Moon in June

Artist Impression of LRO

NASA MISSION UPDATE

NASA’s return to the moon will get a boost in June with the launch of two satellites that will return a wealth of data about Earth’s nearest neighbor. On Thursday, the agency outlined the upcoming missions of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS. The spacecraft will launch together June 17 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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