LCROSS Mission To Seek Water Ice on Moon Heads to Florida for Launch

Feb 17, 2009
LCROSS
LCROSS spacecraft

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, is enroute from Northrop Grumman's facility in Redondo Beach, Calif., to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for a spring launch.

The satellite's primary mission is to search for water ice on the moon in a permanently shadowed crater near one of the lunar poles. LCROSS is a low-cost, accelerated-development, companion mission to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. At Kennedy, the two spacecraft will be integrated with an Atlas V launch vehicle and tested for final flight worthiness. LCROSS and LRO are the first missions in NASA's plan to return humans to the moon and begin establishing a lunar outpost by 2020.

After launch, the LCROSS spacecraft and the Atlas V's Centaur upper stage rocket will fly by the moon and enter into an elongated orbit to position the satellite for impact. On final approach, the spacecraft and Centaur will separate. The Centaur will strike the chosen lunar crater, creating a debris plume that will rise above the surface. Four minutes later, LCROSS will fly through the debris plume, collecting and relaying data back to Earth before striking the moon's surface and creating a second debris plume. Scientists will use data from the debris clouds to determine the presence or absence of water ice.

"The LCROSS project has had to work within very challenging cost-cap and schedule-cap constraints," said Dan Andrews, LCROSS project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "The shipping of our spacecraft is a testament to our balanced approach and the great people working on this project."

To remain within budget and a short schedule of 26 months, the LCROSS project team developed a simple yet innovative spacecraft that uses existing NASA systems, commercial-off-the-shelf components modified to survive the harsh conditions of space, and the spacecraft design and development expertise of integration partner Northrop Grumman Space Technologies.

"LCROSS delivers a high science value per dollar," said Steve Hixson, vice president for advanced concepts at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach. "With its versatile, fast and cost efficient architecture, the LCROSS spacecraft serves as a pathfinder for future low-cost Earth and space science missions."

Ames manages the LCROSS mission and will conduct mission and science operations. Northrop Grumman designed, built, integrated and tested the spacecraft. The LCROSS and LRO missions are components of the Lunar Precursor Robotic Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The program manages pathfinding robotic missions to the moon for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Start of dwarf planet mission delayed after small mix-up

Related Stories

'Map spam' puts Google in awkward place

7 hours ago

Google was re-evaluating its user-edited online map system Friday after the latest embarrassing incident—an image of an Android mascot urinating on an Apple logo.

Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

8 hours ago

When Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox in November 2010, it transformed the video game industry. The most inexpensive 3-D camera to date, the Kinect bypassed the need for joysticks and controllers by ...

Recommended for you

Can sound help us detect 'earthquakes' on Venus?

Apr 23, 2015

Detecting an "earthquake" on Venus would seem to be an impossible task. The planet's surface is a hostile zone of crushing pressure and scorching temperatures—about 874 degrees F, hot enough to melt lead—that ...

Titan's atmosphere useful in study of hazy exoplanets

Apr 23, 2015

With more than a thousand confirmed planets outside of our solar system, astronomers are attempting to identify the atmospheres of these distant bodies to determine if they could possibly host life.

User comments : 0

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.