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Thursday, December 25, 2008

2009: United States to Send Orbiters to the Moon to Map the Surface in 3D

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is set for launch scheduled for launch aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday, April 24, 2009.

The orbiter [the LRO] will spend a year mapping the moon from an average altitude of approximately 30 miles. It will carry six instruments and one technology demonstration to perform investigations specifically targeted for preparing for future human exploration [video]. The instruments are provided by various organizations throughout the United States, and one is from Russia.

Along for the ride to the Moon will be the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite [LCROSS] with a defined mission to confirm the presence or absence of water ice at the moon's south pole. Both spacecraft will join Japanese, Chinese and Indian lunar probes now in orbit conducting remote sensing of the entire lunar surface. Several other lunar missions are planned in the decade ahead.

1 comment:

Thomas Sullivan said...

Excellent post and I would like to add the following. With LRO's launch set for April, 2009, at last we are taking the first steps back to the moon. LRO will be the first mission with a primary objective to implement the United States Vision for Space Exploration. The Vision for Space Exploration is the United States space policy announced on January 14, 2004 by U.S. President George W. Bush. I believe the LRO is a lot more significant then many people realize. At last, we are taking the first small steps of human exploration of space, and even though LRO is simply a non-manned probe for the acquisition of lunar data, it should lead eventually to sending humans back to the Moon, which is supposed to be a stepping stone for eventual Mars exploration. For more space news visit Space News - NASA, Space Tourism, and More.