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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO): NASA's mission to map the lunar surface

Keep up with Astronomy magazine's coverage of this important mission. Here you'll find the latest headlines and blogs about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS).
LCROSS closes in on the Moon
A closer view of the Moon as the LCROSS spacecraft approaches impact.
NASA
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter illustration
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter carries seven instruments to identify safe landing sites for future human explorers, locate potential resources such as water, characterize the radiation environment, and test new technology.
NASA
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) facts
November 13, 2009
News: Water in Moon crater, LCROSS impact reveals
Twin impacts in the Cabeus crater created a plume of material from the bottom of a crater that has not seen sunlight in billions of years. Read the full story.




October 9, 2009
News: The LCROSS has landed, by Bill Andrews, assistant editor
Despite public disappointment over the lack of a visible debris plume, NASA remains confident of the mission's success. Read the full story.




October 9, 2009
News: LCROSS impacts the Moon in search for water ice
NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, created twin impacts on the moon's surface early Friday in a search for water ice. Scientists will analyze data from the spacecraft's instruments to assess whether water ice is present. Read the full story.




October 9, 2009
The LCROSS Centaur and Spacecraft impacted the Moon at approximately 7:30 a.m. PDT. Scientists are reviewing the initial data and will report what they know at a news conference this morning. Stay tuned to Astronomy.com for more details.




October 7, 2009
News: LCROSS set to bombard the Moon
NASA's Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will smash into the Moon early Friday morning to find out once and for all if our nearest neighbor harbors hidden water in its darkest depths. Read the full story.




October 7, 2009
News: Updated SMART-1 image of new target for LCROSS impact
LCROSS will send the upper stage Centaur rocket crashing into Cabeus and a shepherd spacecraft will fly into the plume of dust generated and measure its properties before making a second impact with the lunar surface. Read the full story..




September 28, 2009
News: SMART-1 mapped crash scene of upcoming LCROSS impact
The European Space Agency's (ESA) SMART-1 team released an image of the future impact site of NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). LCROSS will search for water ice on the Moon by making two impacts into a crater named Cabeus A at the lunar South Pole. The impacts are scheduled for 7:30 a.m. EST on October 9, 2009. Read the full story.




July 6, 2009
News: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter sends first lunar images to Earth
The spacecraft will help NASA identify safe landing sites for future explorers, locate potential resources, describe the Moon's radiation environment, and demonstrate new technologies. Read the full story.




News: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission successfully enters Moon's orbit
The spacecraft's instruments will help scientists compile high-resolution, three-dimensional maps of the lunar surface and survey it at many spectral wavelengths. Read the full story.



June 19, 2009
News: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launches successfully
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) launched at 5:32 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 18, aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellite will relay more information about the lunar environment than any other previous mission to the Moon. Read the full story.



June 18, 2009
Exclusive update from LRO mission scientist, Michael Wyatt:
Amazing launch!

I'll get some pictures organized tonight and share another update tomorrow morning.

Hope you enjoyed the launch.

Read his updates from throughout the week.



June 17, 2009
Exclusive update from LRO mission scientist, Michael Wyatt: It's turning out to be a busy, chaotic week at the Kennedy Space Center.

You would expect that, considering that NASA has two major launches scheduled. As I wrote about yesterday (see below), the space shuttle Endeavour was scheduled to launch early this morning, and everyone was brimming with anticipation. But NASA had to scrub the launch for a second time because of a leak detected in the gaseous hydrogen venting system outside the shuttle's external fuel tank. These things happen, and it's better to be safe than sorry, of course, but still it can be frustrating — most of all for those most closely involved in the planned flight. Read the full update.



June 17, 2009
News: NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are set to lift off together aboard an Atlas V rocket on Thursday, June 18, at 5:12 p.m. EDT. Two additional launch opportunities are available at 5:22 p.m. and 5:32 p.m.

In preparation for liftoff, the Atlas V launch vehicle is scheduled to roll out to the pad Wednesday at 10 a.m.



June 16, 2009
News: Exclusive: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter updates from mission scientist
Michael Wyatt, participating scientist on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, offers a firsthand account of the days leading up to the launch of NASA's lunar-bound craft. He's at Cape Canaveral and will provide exclusive updates to Astronomy.com throughout the week. Read his first update.



June 15, 2009
News: NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to blast off for the Moon this week

Just as a scout finds the safest way for expeditions on Earth, NASA will first send a robotic scout to prepare the way for American astronauts to return to the Moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will roar into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on an Atlas V rocket Thursday, June 18. Read the full story.



May 22, 2009
News: NASA details plans for lunar exploration robotic missions

NASA's return to the Moon will get a boost in June with the launch of two satellites that will return a wealth of data about Earth's nearest neighbor. On Thursday, 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 June 17 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Read the full story.



February 18, 2009
News: Mission to seek water ice on Moon heads to Florida for launch
NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) is enroute from Northrop Grumman's facility in Redondo Beach, California, to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for a spring 2009 launch. Read the full story.



December 22, 2008
News: NASA Moon mission completes thermal vacuum testing
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) successfully completed thermal vacuum testing, which simulates the extreme hot, cold, and airless conditions of space that LRO will experience after launch. This milestone concludes the orbiter's environmental test program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Read the full story.



October 23, 2008
News: NASA's next Moon mission begins thermal vacuum test
The spacecraft, built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has been lifted into a four-story thermal vacuum chamber for a test that will last approximately 5 weeks. Once sealed in the chamber, the satellite will undergo a series of tests that simulate the space environment it will encounter when it orbits the Moon. Read the full story.



July 31, 2008
News: NASA tests Moon-imaging spacecraft at Goddard
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, also known as LRO, has completed the first round of environmental testing at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. These tests ensure the spacecraft is prepared for its mission to collect the highest resolution images and most comprehensive geological data set ever returned from the Moon. Read the full story.



June 26, 2008
News: Final checks on lunar satellite
Engineering teams are conducting final checkouts of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, know as LCROSS, that will take a significant step forward in the search for water on the Moon. Read the full story.



April 18, 2008
News: Mission to the Moon
Several instruments that will help NASA characterize the Moon's surface have been installed on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. The powerful equipment will bring the Moon into sharper focus and reveal new insights about the celestial body nearest Earth. Read the full story.
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