NASA Moon-Impactor Mission Passes Major Review

Feb 02, 2007

NASA's drive to return astronauts to the moon and later probe deeper into space achieved a key milestone recently when agency officials approved critical elements of a moon impact mission scheduled to launch in October 2008. NASA's unmanned Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, will strike the moon near its south pole in January 2009. It will search for water and other materials that astronauts could use at a future lunar outpost.

Scott Horowitz, associate administrator of the agency's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, led a confirmation review panel that recently approved the detailed plans, instrument suite, budget and risk factor analysis for the satellite.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages the mission. The mission is valued at $79 million, excluding launch costs. The mission will help NASA gain a new foothold on the moon and prepare for new journeys to Mars and beyond.

The confirmation review authorized continuation of the lunar impactor project and set its cost and schedule. Another mission milestone, the critical design review, is scheduled for late February. That review will examine the detailed Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite system design. After a successful critical design review, the project team will assemble the spacecraft and its instruments.

"The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite project represents an efficient way of doing business by being cost capped, schedule constrained and risk tolerant," said Daniel Andrews, project manager at Ames for the lunar impactor mission.

The lunar impactor will share a rocket ride into space with a second satellite, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. After the orbiter separates from the Atlas V launch vehicle for its own mission, the LCROSS will use the spent Centaur upper stage of the rocket as a 4,400-pound lunar impactor, targeting a permanently shadowed crater near the lunar South Pole.

According to scientists, the Centaur's collision with the moon will excavate about 220 tons of material from the lunar surface. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite will observe the plume of material with a suite of six instruments to look for water ice and examine lunar soil. The satellite will fly through the plume, also impacting the lunar surface. That second impact will be observed from Earth.

The prime contractor for the satellite is Northrop Grumman Space Technologies of Redondo Beach, Calif.

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


For information about NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate on the Web, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration

Source: NASA

Explore further: Curiosity brushes 'Bonanza king' target anticipating fourth red planet rock drilling

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Would Earth look like a habitable planet from afar?

Jun 30, 2014

Even when a distant world has the trademarks of habitability—it's Earth-sized, it's in the zone around its star where liquid water is possible—finding signs of life is tricky. The telescope technology ...

Recommended for you

Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy discovers new comet

3 hours ago

It's confirmed! Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy just discovered his fifth comet, C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). He found it August 17th using a Celestron C8 fitted with a CCD camera at his roll-off roof ...

Students see world from station crew's point of view

Aug 19, 2014

NASA is helping students examine their home planet from space without ever leaving the ground, giving them a global perspective by going beyond a map attached to a sphere on a pedestal. The Sally Ride Earth ...

Mars deep down

Aug 19, 2014

Scarring the southern highlands of Mars is one of the Solar System's largest impact basins: Hellas, with a diameter of 2300 km and a depth of over 7 km.

User comments : 0