NASA's Quest to Find Water on the Moon Moves Closer to Launch

Jan 15, 2008

Cameras and sensors that will look for the presence of water on the moon have completed validation tests and been shipped to the manufacturer of NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.

The science instruments for the satellite, which is known as LCROSS, departed NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field Calif., for the Northrop Grumman Corporation's facility in Redondo Beach, Calif. to be integrated with the spacecraft. A video file is available on NASA Television. LCROSS is scheduled to launch with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., by the end of 2008.

"The goal of the mission is to confirm the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the moon's south pole," said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS principal investigator at Ames. "The identification of water is very important to the future of human activities on the moon."

In 2009, LCROSS will separate into two parts and create a pair of impacts on the permanently dark floor of one of the moon's polar craters. The spent Centaur upper stage of the Atlas V rocket will hit the moon, causing an explosion of material from the crater’s surface. The instruments aboard the satellite will analyze the plume for the presence of water ice or water vapor, hydrocarbons and hydrated materials. The satellite then will fly through the plume on a collision course with the lunar surface. Both impacts will be visible to Earth and lunar-orbiting instruments.

Northrop Grumman is designing and building the spacecraft. After installing the instruments on the satellite, Northrop Grumman will test the entire spacecraft system to ensure it is flight worthy.

During development of the LCROSS payload, Ames engineers and scientists built new spaceflight hardware and used new testing procedures to take advantage of lower cost, commercially available instruments. The team subjected the commercial instruments and NASA-developed components to conditions simulating the harsh environment of spaceflight. Working closely with the commercial instrument manufacturers, all safety and operational concerns were addressed quickly and efficiently.

"This payload delivery represents a new way of doing business for the center and the agency in general," said Daniel Andrews, LCROSS project manager at Ames. "LCROSS primarily is using commercial-off-the-shelf instruments on this mission to meet the mission's accelerated development schedule and cost restraints."

"This arrangement has proven to work very well," Andrews added. "The vendors work with their products and develop a spaceflight knowledge base, and the LCROSS project gets very mature products for deployment on this mission."

For more information about the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite mission, visit: lcross.arc.nasa.gov

For more information about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov

Source: NASA

Explore further: Exploring Mars in low Earth orbit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fighting bacteria—with viruses

18 minutes ago

Research published today in PLOS Pathogens reveals how viruses called bacteriophages destroy the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which is becoming a serious problem in hospitals and healthcare institutes, due to its re ...

Noise pollution impacts fish species differently

58 minutes ago

Acoustic disturbance has different effects on different species of fish, according to a new study from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter which tested fish anti-predator behaviour.

Atomic structure of key muscle component revealed

58 minutes ago

Actin is the most abundant protein in the body, and when you look more closely at its fundamental role in life, it's easy to see why. It is the basis of most movement in the body, and all cells and components ...

Recommended for you

Exploring Mars in low Earth orbit

19 minutes ago

In their quest to understand life's potential beyond Earth, astrobiologists study how organisms might survive in numerous environments, from the surface of Mars to the ice-covered oceans of Jupiter's moon, ...

Lifetime of gravity measurements heralds new beginning

2 hours ago

Although ESA's GOCE satellite is no more, all of the measurements it gathered during its life skirting the fringes our atmosphere, including the very last as it drifted slowly back to Earth, have been drawn ...

NASA's IceCube no longer on ice

6 hours ago

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has chosen a team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to build its first Earth science-related CubeSat mission.

Tidal forces gave moon its shape, according to new analysis

20 hours ago

The shape of the moon deviates from a simple sphere in ways that scientists have struggled to explain. A new study by researchers at UC Santa Cruz shows that most of the moon's overall shape can be explained by taking into ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

out7x
1 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2008
Isnt there an easier way to find water, via remote sensing lunar orbiter?