On Thursday, May 21, the agency outlined the upcoming missions of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). The spacecraft will launch together Jun 17 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Using a suite of seven instruments, LRO will help identify safe landing sites for future human explorers, locate potential resources, characterize the radiation environment and test new technology. LCROSS will seek a definitive answer about the presence of water ice at the lunar poles.
Doug Cooke, associate administrator of NASA's exploration systems mission directorate said, " These two missions will provide exciting new information about the moon, our nearest neighbour." He also said, "Imaging will show dramatic landscapes and areas of interest down to one-meter resolution. The data also will provide information about potential new uses of the moon. These teams have done a tremendous job designing and building these two spacecraft."
The satellite's instruments will help to explain how the lunar radiation environment may affect humans and measure radiation absorption with a plastic that is like human tissue.
Craig Tooley, LRO project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland said, "LRO is an amazingly sophisticated spacecraft," He also said, "Its suite of instruments will work in concert to send us data in areas where we've been hungry for information for years."