LRO & LCROSS Up-Close Tour
Posted By Emily Lakdawalla
2009/05/19 12:58 CDT
Planetary Society volunteer Ken Kremer is reporting for us from the Kennedy Space Center, where he witnessed the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis to the Hubble Space Telescope on May 11. Kremer is a research scientist and freelance journalist who spends his spare time giving public outreach presentations on behalf of The Planetary Society as a volunteer and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Solar System Ambassador. He also enjoys creating Mars mosaics. Thanks Ken!
by Ken Kremer
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, is NASA's next science flight dedicated to explore and survey Earth's moon and pave the way to return a human presence. In fact, it's actually two robotic pathfinder missions in one. Riding piggyback is the co-manifested Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS.
he two spacecraft will provide complimentary data from different vantage points in unprecedented detail and are set to launch no earlier than June 17. Whereas LRO will study the lunar composition and environment from polar orbit, LCROSS is designed to impact a crater near the lunar polar region, hunt for water ice and provide ground level composition data.
I observed the integrated LRO and LCROSS combination spacecraft stack up close on Friday, May 15, at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility, Titusville, FL, located a few miles west of KSC. I participated in a media tour sponsored by NASA for a pre-launch photo opportunity and Q&A with mission scientists and engineers.
RO is managed by NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center. LCROSS is the responsibility of the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA. The LRO/LCROSS mission hopes to discover what the moon has to offer for future moon dwellers. This includes searching for safe landing sites and life sustaining elements such as water and constitutes a major step by NASA towards returning humans to the moon by 2020.
The spacecraft are undergoing final processing before launching aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), FL. CCAFS lies adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center.
raig Tooley, LRO Project Manager at NASA