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Lunar Recon Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V (401)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla, Launch Complex 41
NASA Center: Goddard Space Flight Center
Spacecraft Mass: The total mass at launch is 1,916 kilograms (4,224 pounds). The dry mass is 1,018 kilograms (2,244 pounds), and fuel is 898 kilograms (1,980 pounds).
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) CRaTER; 2) Diviner; 3) LAMP; 4) LEND; 5) LOLA; 6) LROC; and 7) Mini-RF
Spacecraft Dimensions: LRO is 152 inches tall. LRO measures 103 inches from the instrument module to the stowed solar array and 108 inches from the stowed high-gain antenna to Mini-RF antenna.
Spacecraft Power: Solar arrays and Li-ion battery
Maximum Power: 685 watts
Maximum Data Rate: 461 Gb per day
Total Cost: The project's life cost is approximately $500 million.
LRO/LCROSS Launch Press Kit, NASA, June 2009,

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is an unmanned (robotic) mission to the Moon that will help to prepare for future human lunar missions. LRO will also help to answer fundamental questions about the Earth-Moon system.

By making a high-resolution map of the composition of the lunar surface, LRO will seek out sources of water ice that may exist at the bottom of polar craters that never see sunlight. Water, if found, could be used by astronauts to make fuel, air, and perhaps grow plants and food. Scheduled to launch onboard an Atlas V401 rocket, LRO will settle into a polar orbit 50 kilometers (31 miles) above the surface in order to view the entire surface of the Moon in high detail. To carry out it's mission of mapping the composition of the Moon's surface in high resolution, LRO will carry six scientific instruments and one technology demonstrator.

The LRO Camera will retrieve high-resolution 1 meter per pixel (3.3 feet) images of the Moon's entire surface -- from pole to pole -- in the visual and ultraviolet spectrum. These images will provide information about polar lighting conditions, identify potential resources and hazards, and enable safe landing sites to be chosen for future robotic and human missions.

Other instruments aboard LRO will create a high-resolution 3-D map of the entire Moon's surface, using laser altimeters, radio and ultraviolet imagery, temperature maps, and will also characterize the radiation levels on the Moon.

Engineer Cathy Peddie is the Deputy Mission Manager for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. She says that LRO will help NASA mission planners to figure out, "Where to go on the Moon, where to [put] the safe landing sites, and where to put things like lunar outposts, in the hopes of having human exploration in the near future."

Key Dates
18 Jun 2009:  Launch (21:32 UT)
23 Jun 2009:  Arrival in Lunar Orbit (09:43 UT)
Status: Success
Fast Facts
Lunar Recon Orbiter Facts LRO data also indicates the Moon may still be shrinking.

LRO found the lost Soviet Lunokhod 1 rover, enabling the 1970 mission to again contribute valuable science data.

LRO's measuremed spots on the Moon even colder than Pluto.

It also found areas of near constant sunlight on the Moon's South Pole.

LRO also took detailed images of the Apollo landing sites. Apollo 11's landing zone is shown above.
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Last Updated: 7 Jun 2015