LRO/LCROSS Mission to the Moon

LRO and LCROSS were launched together on the same rocket in June 2009. LRO maps the Moon from lunar orbit. LCROSS crashes (on purpose!) near the South Pole.
Images courtesy of NASA.

LRO and LCROSS are two space missions sent by NASA to Earth's Moon. LRO and LCROSS were launched from Florida in June 2009. The two spacecraft were launched together on one rocket.

LRO stands for "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter". LRO is in orbit around the Moon. It is taking very detailed pictures of the Moon's surface. These pictures will be used to make a better new map of the Moon. That map will help scientists plan other Moon missions that are coming up in the next few years. LRO is also searching for signs of water ice near the Moon's North and South Poles. LRO is also studying radiation near the Moon. That will be important to know about when astronauts go back to the Moon.

LCROSS stands for Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite. LCROSS will crash into the Moon on purpose! It will hit the Moon near the South Pole on October 9, 2009. LCROSS is trying to detect signs of water ice in craters near the Moon's South Pole, if any is there. The Centaur upper stage of the rocket that launched LRO and LCROSS will crash into a crater near the South Pole. Scientists think there might be water ice in that crater. The crash will create a large plume of material when the Centaur explodes upon impact. LCROSS will use instruments to search for signs of water molecules within the plume. The LCROSS spacecraft will also smash into the Moon soon after the Centaur rocket. Telescopes on Earth will watch both crashes.

LRO/LCROSS mission overview video from NASA

LRO/LCROSS "First Step" video from NASA

NASA's LCROSS web site

NASA's LRO web site

The Moon's South Pole

LCROSS web site at NASA Ames

LRO web site at NASA Goddard

Last modified October 6, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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