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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA robotic spacecraft orbiting the Moon / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon in an eccentric polar mapping orbit.[6][7] Data collected by LRO have been described as essential for planning NASA's future human and robotic missions to the Moon.[8] Its detailed mapping program is identifying safe landing sites, locating potential resources on the Moon, characterizing the radiation environment, and demonstrating new technologies.[9][10]

Quick facts: Mission type, Operator, COSPAR ID, SATCAT no....
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Illustration of LRO
Mission typeLunar orbiter
COSPAR ID2009-031A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.35315
Mission duration
  • Primary mission: 1 year[1]
  • Science mission: 2 years[1]
  • Extension 1: 2 years[1]
  • Extension 2: 2 years[2]
  • Elapsed: 13 years, 9 months and 2 days
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerNASA / GSFC
Launch mass1,916 kg (4,224 lb)[3]
Dry mass1,018 kg (2,244 lb)[3]
Payload mass92.6 kg (204 lb)[3]
DimensionsLaunch: 390 × 270 × 260 cm (152 × 108 × 103 in)[3]
Power1850 W[4]
Start of mission
Launch dateJune 18, 2009, 21:32:00 (2009-06-18UTC21:32Z) UTC
RocketAtlas V 401
Launch siteCape Canaveral SLC-41
ContractorUnited Launch Alliance
Entered serviceSeptember 15, 2009
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Semi-major axis1,825 km (1,134 mi)
Periselene altitude20 km (12 mi)
Aposelene altitude165 km (103 mi)
EpochMay 4, 2015[5]
Moon orbiter
Orbital insertionJune 23, 2009

Launched on June 18, 2009,[11] in conjunction with the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), as the vanguard of NASA's Lunar Precursor Robotic Program,[12] LRO was the first United States mission to the Moon in over ten years.[13] LRO and LCROSS were launched as part of the United States's Vision for Space Exploration program.

The probe has made a 3-D map of the Moon's surface at 100-meter resolution and 98.2% coverage (excluding polar areas in deep shadow),[14] including 0.5-meter resolution images of Apollo landing sites.[15][16] The first images from LRO were published on July 2, 2009, showing a region in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds).[17]

The total cost of the mission is reported as US$583 million, of which $504 million pertains to the main LRO probe and $79 million to the LCROSS satellite.[18] As of 2019, LRO has enough fuel to continue operations for at least seven more years, and NASA expects to continue utilizing LRO's reconnaissance capabilities to identify sites for lunar landers well into the 2020s.[19]