Posted tagged ‘Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’

LRO Sheds Light On The Moon

September 23, 2009
Daytime and nighttime temperature observations of the lunar south pole recorded by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL/UCLA

Daytime and nighttime temperature observations of the lunar south pole recorded by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL/UCLA

After months of calibration, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is providing lots of interesting new insights into the moon.  Scientists had expected that the permanently shadowed craters would hold signs of hydrogen, a indicator of ice deposits.  In a surprise, the LRO has found evidence of hydrogen both inside & outside the craters with some craters having no hydrogen at all.

The LRO also found that these permanently shadowed craters are the coldest places in the solar systems.  Readings show that temperatures in these craters never rise above 33 kelvin or minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  For more information, see the NASA website.

40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing Today

July 20, 2009

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter or LRO passed over the Sea of Tranquility on Sunday and provided photographs of the Apollo 11 lunar module.  NASA has thoughtfully pointed out the lunar module.  Check it out below.  Also, MSNBC has an interesting story on some of the background of the moon landing.

The Apollo 11 lunar module as photographed by NASA's LRO.  Image credit:  NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

The Apollo 11 lunar module as photographed by NASA's LRO. Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

NASA’s LCROSS Reaches Target Tuesday

June 23, 2009
The Atlas V rocket with LRO and LCROSS aboard launched on June 18, 2009 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Atlas V rocket with LRO and LCROSS aboard launched on June 18, 2009 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite or LCROSS launched by NASA on June 18 with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will perform a flyby of the moon today and calibrate its instruments.  NASA is offering streaming video from the LCROSS today also.

The LCROSS’ mission is to search for traces of water on the moon.  On October 9, 2009, the LCROSS is scheduled to drop the satellite’s spent upper-stage Centaur rocket into a permanently shadowed crater near the south pole of the moon. The impact will send up a plume of material high above the moon’s surface, vaporizing any ice and exposing any traces of water. The plume of lunar debris should rise as high as six miles & be visible here on Earth, west of the Mississippi.  LCROSS will fly through the plume for four minutes, take measurements, send the data to Earth, then crash into the surface after the Centaur, creating a second plume of debris.

Endeavour Launch Scrubbed Today

June 17, 2009
Workers replace seals on Endeavour on June 14, 2009.  Image credit:  NASA/Tim Jacobs

Workers replace seals on Endeavour on June 14, 2009. Image credit: NASA/Tim Jacobs

The hydrogen leak which has been troubling the shuttle fleet, causing prior launch delays on two shuttle missions, caused today’s launch of the space shuttle Endeavour to be pushed back until approximately July 11th.  With the planned launch of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on Thursday or Friday time was of the essence in the Endeavour launch and NASA simply was unable to take advantage of the available launch window. 

NASA engineers attempted the fix that worked for a prior leak, replacing a seal in the gaseous hydrogen vent line umbilical plate.  Initially, the fix seemed to work, but the amount of hydrogen leaking was above allowable limits.  With the launch delayed until at least July 11th, it is likely that the next shuttle launch, currently scheduled for August 7th,  will also be delayed.

NASA Returns to the Moon

June 15, 2009
Artist rendering of the LRO spacecraft.  Image credit:  NASA

Artist rendering of the LRO spacecraft. Image credit: NASA

Although its Wednesday liftoff was bumped by the shuttle, when the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) lifts off later this week, as is scheduled, it will orbit the moon in search of information that will help with planning a long-term human presence on the moon.  The LRO will evaluate potential landing sites, seek out useful resources such as ice, measure cosmic rays, and will provide detailed mapping of the moon’s surface.  For more information, see Scientific American.

Endeavour’s Saturday Launch Scrubbed

June 15, 2009
Space shuttle Endeavour on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA TV

Space shuttle Endeavour on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA TV

A leaking hydrogen gas line on Endeavour’s fuel tank caused Saturday’s launch to be cancelled.  The same kind of gas line leak postponed a shuttle launch in March. NASA is hoping that technicians will be able to use the same fix to repair  Endeavour and has rescheduled the shuttle’s launch to Wednesday, June 17th. 

Wednesday is also the launch date for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, an unmanned satellite to the moon.  NASA is planning to bump the moon mission for shuttle’s launch.  Endeavour must launch by this weekend or wait until mid-July because the angle of the sun would heat up the shuttle. The moon mission must be launched by Saturday as well because of the alignment between the Earth and the moon, otherwise it must wait until the end of the month for another shot.