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NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched 10 years ago today (June 18, 2009), at a time when NASA was toying with going back to the moon. A decade later, the agency now has a tight deadline of 2024 to land people on the lunar surface, and LRO's data will likely guide the way.
LRO is best known as a water hunter and high-definition mapper of the lunar surface. Both water and clear maps are essential for any human missions. Permanent settlements on the moon will do better if settlers can "live off the land" and use frozen water on site, because that will mean they won't have to launch so much weight from Earth. And when it comes to finding a good spot to do exploration, LRO's images can't be beat. They're so precise that they even picked up details of the Apollo moon landing sites, each of which humans visited nearly half a century ago.
LRO - Suite - Cameras - Instruments - Moon
LRO carries a suite of cameras and instruments to reveal more about the moon's environment. Those tools include an ultraviolet instrument that could sense surface ice and frost, a cosmic ray telescope to measure radiation levels, and a radiometer to peer underneath the thick lunar dust.
An artist's concept of the LRO as it orbits the moon.
NASA - Lunar - Reconnaissance - Orbiter - Sight
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter caught sight of the landing site of the Apollo 11 moon mission.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera snapped its best look yet of the Apollo 11 landing site on the moon. The image, which was released on March 7, 2012, even shows the remnants of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's historic first steps on the surface around the Lunar Module.
China - Chang'e - Rover - Yutu - Feb
China's Chang'e 4 rover, called Yutu 2, moved between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28, 2019. The upper left panel shows the landing site before Chang’e 4’s Jan. 2 touchdown;...
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I find it extremely funny when people keep voting and expecting the government to change!