Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NASA's LRO enters Lunar Orbit This Morning

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter entered our moon's orbit this morning, beginning a year long period of imaging the lunar surface for possible manned landing sites as America returns to the moon in 2020.

At 6:27 am EDT today, LRO entered lunar orbit. Over the next few days, according to NASA's Ames Research Center, the spacecraft will begin powering up its instruments and imager and begin to lower its orbit slightly to begin mapping operations.

Meanwhile, several thousand miles behind is the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite or LCROSS. Both LRO & LCROSS were launched together aboard an Atlas V last Thursday from Cape Canaveral. LCROSS is towing the Atlas' spent centaur upper stage to the moon and will crash it into a dark crater near the moon's south pole. The plume of lunar dirt kicked up by the centaur's impact will allow LCROSS to fly through it to chemically measure for any water or ice make up in the soil.

We are awaiting possible LIVE television from LCROSS at about 8:20 am EDT.

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