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.