Press Release

NASA Selects Investigations for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

By SpaceRef Editor
December 22, 2004
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NASA Selects Investigations for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
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NASA has selected six proposals to provide instrumentation and
associated exploration/science measurement investigations for the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), the first spacecraft to be built as part
of the Vision for Space Exploration.

The LRO mission is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2008 as part of
NASA’s Robotic Lunar Exploration Program. The mission will deliver a
powerful orbiter to the vicinity of the moon to obtain measurements
necessary to characterize future robotic and human landing sites. It
also will identify potential lunar resources and document aspects of
the lunar radiation environment relevant to human biological responses.

Proposals were submitted to NASA in response to an Announcement of
Opportunity released in June 2004. Instrumentation provided by these
selected measurement investigations will be the payload of the mission
scheduled to launch in October 2008.

“The payload we have selected for LRO builds on our collective
experience in remote sensing of the Earth and Mars,” said NASA’s Deputy
Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Dr.
Ghassem Asrar. “The measurements obtained by these instruments will
characterize in unprecedented ways the moon’s surface and environment
for return of humans in the next decade,” he added.

“LRO will deliver measurements that will be critical to the key
decisions we must make before the end of this decade,” said NASA’s
Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission
Directorate, Craig Steidle. “We are extremely excited by this
innovative payload, and we are confident it will fulfill our
expectations and support the Vision for Space Exploration,” Steidle
added.

“The instruments selected for LRO represent an ideal example of a dual
use payload in which exploration relevance and potential scientific
impact are jointly maximized,” NASA’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Jim Garvin
said. “I am confident LRO will discover a ‘new moon’ for us, and in
doing so shape our human exploration agenda for our nearest planetary
neighbor for decades to come,” he said.

The selected proposals will conduct Phase A/B studies to focus on how
proposed hardware can best be accommodated, completed, and delivered on
a schedule consistent with the mission timeline, An Instrument
Preliminary Design Review and Confirmation for Phase C Review will be
held at the completion of Phase B.

Selected investigations and principal investigators:

“Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) Measurement Investigation” –
principal investigator Dr. David E. Smith, NASA Goddard Space Flight
Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, Md. LOLA will determine the global topography
of the lunar surface at high resolution, measure landing site slopes
and search for polar ices in shadowed regions.

“Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera” (LROC) – principal investigator
Dr. Mark Robinson, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. LROC will
acquire targeted images of the lunar surface capable of resolving
small-scale features that could be landing site hazards, as well as
wide-angle images at multiple wavelengths of the lunar poles to
document changing illumination conditions and potential resources.

“Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector” (LEND) – principal investigator
Dr. Igor Mitrofanov, Institute for Space Research, and Federal Space
Agency, Moscow. LEND will map the flux of neutrons from the lunar
surface to search for evidence of water ice and provide measurements of
the space radiation environment which can be useful for future human
exploration.

“Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment” – principal investigator Prof.
David Paige, UCLA, Los Angeles. Diviner will map the temperature of the
entire lunar surface at 300 meter horizontal scales to identify cold-
traps and potential ice deposits.

“Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project” (LAMP) – principal investigator Dr. Alan
Stern, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo. LAMP will observe
the entire lunar surface in the far ultraviolet. LAMP will search for
surface ices and frosts in the polar regions and provide images of
permanently shadowed regions illuminated only by starlight.

“Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation” (CRaTER) –
principal investigator Prof. Harlan Spence, Boston University, Mass.
CRaTER will investigate the effect of galactic cosmic rays on tissue-
equivalent plastics as a constraint on models of biological response to
background space radiation.

The LRO project is managed by GSFC. Goddard will acquire the launch
system and spacecraft, provide payload accommodations, mission systems
engineering, assurance, and management. For information about NASA and
agency programs on the Internet, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

SpaceRef staff editor.