NASA's Next Moon Mission Begins Thermal Vacuum Test

Oct 23, 2008
Photo of LRO as it was lowered into Goddard´s Thermal Vac, which simulates both the vacuum and temperatures of space. Credit: NASA/Debbie McCallum

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has begun environmental testing in a thermal vacuum that simulates the harsh rigors of space.

The spacecraft, built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has been lifted into a four-story thermal vacuum chamber there for a test that will last approximately five 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.

During the tests, NASA engineers will operate the spacecraft to ensure it is performing as planned. The project also will conduct mission simulations to further train and develop the team that will operate the spacecraft.

"This is an exciting time for our project," said Cathy Peddie, LRO deputy project manager at Goddard. "Thermal vacuum testing is one of our major milestones. Not only are we checking out LRO in a test facility that most closely matches its final destination, but we are getting more 'hands-on' time operating LRO as we will see it next year at the moon."

The orbiter will carry seven instruments to provide scientists with detailed maps of the lunar surface and enhance our understanding of the moon's topography, lighting conditions, mineralogical composition and natural resources. Information gleaned from LRO will be used to select safe landing sites, determine locations for future lunar outposts and help to mitigate radiation dangers to astronauts.

The orbiter will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida early next year to be prepared for its April 24 launch aboard an Atlas V rocket. Accompanying the spacecraft will be the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, a mission that will impact the moon's surface in its search for water ice.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: How bad can solar storms get?

Related Stories

Cosmic rays threaten future deep-space astronaut missions

Oct 21, 2014

Crewed missions to Mars remain an essential goal for NASA, but scientists are only now beginning to understand and characterize the radiation hazards that could make such ventures risky, concludes a new paper ...

Recommended for you

How bad can solar storms get?

May 22, 2015

Our sun regularly pelts the Earth with all kinds of radiation and charged particles. How bad can these solar storms get?

Mars rover's ChemCam instrument gets sharper vision

May 22, 2015

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover's "ChemCam" instrument just got a major capability fix, as Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists uploaded a software repair for the auto-focus system on the instrument.

GOES-R satellite begins environmental testing

May 21, 2015

The GOES-R satellite, slated to launch in 2016, is ready for environmental testing. Environmental testing simulates the harsh conditions of launch and the space environment once the satellite is in orbit. ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2008
BFD/Who cares! - we will NEVER be allowed to see the RAW photos from the LRO. Only after they have been blurred and altered to remove the really interesting stuff.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.